THE RURAL CEMETERIES OF AMERICA: GREEN-WOOD ILLUSTRATED IN HIGHLY FINISHED LINE ENGRAVING, FROM DRAWINGS TAKEN ON THE SPOT. WITH DESCRIPTIVE NOTICES. Also: MOUNT AUBURN ILLUSTRATED, IN HIGHLY FINISHED LINE ENGRAVING.
Book Details + Condition: R. Martin (New York). First Edition, 1847. Very scarce. By James Smillie (Art) and Nehemiah Cleaveland (Text). Steel engravings throughout this fundamental work on cemetery landscape design. Approximately halfway through the book is divided into "Mount Auburn Illustrated, in Highty Finished Line Engravings." By James Smillie (Art) and Cornelia W, Walter (Text). Total of 119 pages, followed with more full-page plates. Bound
in original publisher's deluxe dark brown leather boards with gilt-stamped decorations on front cover and on spine. All page edges gilt. "Long before the professionalism of landscape architecture, new American cemeteries provided models of landscape taste and trained generations of landscape designers, producing lasting effects on our built environment" (Blanche Linden-Ward, American Landscape Architecture). Cemeteries
have long been green oases in urban areas, and in the
19th century a tradition of opulence developed in which the wealthy
spared no expense in building mausoleums and memorials to themselves. Thus at
least in the more celebrated cemeteries can be found a bucolic beauty
enveloping architectural splendor and notable landscape design, and this series captured these
attributes for an appreciative audience. Please see below for more information on Green-Wood and the artist, James Smillie. Rubbed corners and edges; wear to original leather covers; boards appear to have been re-attached at some point (not uncommon with these larger books); chipping to spine ends; protective paper to frontispiece oddly re-glued / attached; foxing present in many places, some areas more heavily foxed than others; some discoloration present on approximately 30 pages (at the top edge), towards the middle of the book. Book is stamped on the front with "E.M. De Lisser," and the front inside board details the book's history in the De Lisser family.
Green-Wood is a vast expanse in Brooklyn. "Founded
in 1838 and now a National Historic Landmark, Green-Wood was one of the first
rural cemeteries in America. By the early 1860s, it had earned an international
reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the prestigious place to be
buried, attracting 500,000 visitors a year, second only to Niagara Falls as the
nation’s greatest tourist attraction. Crowds flocked there to enjoy family outings,
carriage rides, and sculpture viewing in the finest of first generation
American landscapes. Green-Wood’s popularity helped inspire the creation of
public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks." [Green-Wood website]
James Smillie (1807-1885) was an engraver born in
Edinburgh who immigrated to the U.S. as an adult after spending time in Quebec.
He is best known today as an engraver who worked with such Hudson River School
artists as Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt. His bread and butter work, though,
was engraving bank notes. Smillie was, in the words of David Stauffer, "an admirable line-engraver
of landscape" who worked largely from his own drawings. The plates herein
exhibiting a very high degree of execution and artistic sensibility.