“A book of architecture containing designs of buildings and ornaments” was written by James Gibbs and first published in 1728. As the title suggests, this book focuses on the design of buildings, which is immediately noticeable upon opining, as it contains a lot of illustrations, etchings, and engravings.
James Gibbs’ work does not hold a typical list of contents: Instead, appended to the introduction part are several “plates”, describing each of the following illustrations while referring to the correct page. This helps the reader’s better understanding. All in all, the book’s content is only made up of illustrations, focussing on the general design and special ornaments – This way the author makes sure everyone can enjoy his insight into architecture, regardless of the reader’s level of expertise. Depicted in the book are various churches, mansions, and other buildings, like Kings College in Cambridge.
Comparing the book’s height to its width, one notices an unconventional height. This may have something to do with the often-depicted churches, as they have tall steeples; But also large mansions can be better visualised, when turning the book to a horizontal format. In that sense, the general dimensions of the book are fitted accordingly to the book’s content.
As previously mentioned, the author is the 18th century Scottish architect James Gibbs (1682 – 1754). He studied architecture in Rome and is known for the synthesis of the Italian Baroque style with Palladianism, a classical style that stands for clarity and symmetry. His most famous work is St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, which became the archetype for many British and American churches. Gibbs’ “Book of Architecture” was the most widely used architectural pattern book in Britain in the 18th century. I believe, with this book the architect wanted to transport the beauty of his designs into the world.