San Francisco, Calif.: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991. Tall 4to. 429 pp. Illustrated. Green buckram in dust jacket.
The architect-scholar Laurence Hall Fowler, born in Baltimore in 1876, began to
collect rare and fine editions of architectural books while an architecture student at Columbia University. He continued to expand his collection throughout a distinguished professional career that spanned the first half of the twentieth century. Upon his retirement in 1945, Fowler donated the entire collection to Johns Hopkins University, where he -had completed his undergraduate education. This catalogue, the fruit of Fowler's collaboration with Elizabeth Baer (then librarian of the John Work Garrett Library), provides complete descriptive detail for the 448 works in the collection. The most influential of architects are well represented, included Vitruvius, Alberti, Serlio, Palladio, Vignola, Scamozzi, and many others. First published in 1961, the catalogue was reprinted for the first time in 1991 with the permission of the Evergreen House Foundation. The volume is especially valuable in light of the paucity of bibliographical material in this field.
The importance of this work is established in Baer's introduction:
"These books rank as for more than mere professional , manuals. They are the channels through which the monuments of antiquity were revealed to the receptive minds of the Renaissance and. later. In them we can witness not only the process of imitation but, more important, of interpretation, of analysis, adaptation and modification by which these works served as the breeding ground of new styles and. new aesthetics. They provided a storehouse of record and.
observation, a treasury of pattern, a manual of craftsmanship and engineering, a rationale of application and adaptation, criteria of discernment and taste, whose influence has lasted into the present century. Here is history - not only architectural - but political economic, social cultural and much more. The texts are by the greatest architects and engineers of the period. The plates - woodcut or engraved - are by the greatest delineators and graphic artists, the typography is by the great presses of the past. The designs are for those who care for-and could afford-the most elegant taste of the time. The, books reflect the artistic beginning of certain nations at certain eras-the Italians, the French, the English-and others. But the very fact, so clearly evident in this bibliographical listing, of the many languages and redactions in which a large number of these works made their appearance bears eloquent testimony to the international impact of the greatest of them."
The catalogue is illustrated with 30 rarely reproduced plates selected to reveal fresh aspects of these great books. In her choice of plates Baer hoped to "evoke something of the beauty and charm to be found in these volumes, and suggest in small part the scope and variety of the Fowler collection." ,
Arntzen & Rainwater, Guide to the Literature of Art History, No. J13. "Most of the books listed are editions of architectural classics. The collations and complete bibliographical descriptions make this work a valuable reference tool for rare book librarians, book dealers, and book collectors." Item #128-X