The Seats and Demesnes of the Nobility and Gentry of Ireland, In a Collection of the most interesting and Picturesque Views, Engraved by Thomas Milton, from Drawings by the most Eminent Artist, with Descriptions of each View. Five parts.
Twenty views. Published by T. Milton, No. 35, Great George’s Street, and sold by W. Wilson, No. 6, Dame-Street, Dublin, 1783/1787. Loosely inserted is the titlepage, list of subscribers and dedication. Original mauve stitched wrappers, with minor tears and fraying to edges. Occasional light foxing. A very good copy in custom made solander box. Extremely rare.
No copy of this edition located on COPAC or WorldCat. Not in TCD of NLI.
Thomas Milton (1743-1827), engraver, was born in England, his grandfather, Sir Christopher Milton was brother to John Milton, the poet and author of ‘Paradise Lost’. His father, also named John, was an artist who worked in London. Thomas came to Dublin in 1783, and in January of that year, his first four engravings were published with descriptive text. These were ‘Phoenix Park, Leinster House, Lucan House’ and ‘The Dargle’. All were after pictures by J.J. Barralet, the well known Dublin painter. Later in 1783 Milton published four more engravings: ‘Marino, Belan House, Malahide Castle’ and ‘The Scalp ‘, from drawings by Francis Wheatley and William Ashford. Subscribers had to wait until 1785 for the third set of four engravings: ‘Bessborough, Brockley Park, Beau Parc’ and ‘The Salmon Leap’. The artists were Ashford, Wheatley, Thomas Roberts and William Pars. The next four appeared in July, 1786: ‘Lismore, Howth House, Florence Court’ and ‘Glen Molaur’. The fifth series appeared the following year, the plates being ‘Tullymore Park, Mount Kennedy, Ballyfin’ and ‘Lucan’. This series completes the first edition of 1783/1787. It was to be six years before the sixth and final series appeared: ‘Glenarm, Shane’s Castle, Tarbert’ and ‘Dunran’, which were included in the second edition, published in 1793. The reason for the long delay is explained in an announcement which is laid on the front free endpaper.
This extended publishing period led to differences in printings, which make the Milton a fascinating book. Different manufactures of paper were used in the originals, each with their own distinctive watermarks, some of them beautiful in themselves. There were at least two different typesettings of the descriptive texts and many variations in the printings of the plates have been noticed.
These engravings of Thomas Milton are arguably the finest there are of their kind. Milton (1743-1827) was not prolific. His output was small, his work superb. Sometime a governor of the Society of Engravers, London. Quite clearly, Milton was an engraver of the front rank with a powerful and distinctive technique. W. C. Bell Scott, in his Autobiographical Notes had this to say. Milton “… had the unique power of distinguishing the foliage of trees and the texture of all bodies, especially water, as it had never been done before and never will be done again.”
Strickland described the engravings as the “work of singular beauty, engraved with great delicacy and strength, and constitute the most charming record of Irish scenery and places which have ever been published”.
The list of subscribers includes: Sir John Blaquire, Rev. Dr. Berkeley, Dean of Tuam, Rick Fred. Burke, Esq., Loughrea, The Earl of Charlemont, Lord Viscount Carlow, Hugh Crofton, Austin Cooper, Cornelius Callaghan (12 sets), The Rt. Hon. John Foster, John Fitzgibbon, The Duke of Leinster, Peter Digges Latouche, The Earl Moira, Thomas Salkeld, The Earl of Tyrone, William Westby, Mr. Samuel Whyte, Joseph Cooper Walker, etc.
Andrew Bonar Law, Ireland’s leading expert in prints, engravings and maps states that he has never seen a set in the original wrappers.
An item of the utmost rarity.