Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing. Dominick SERRES, John Thomas.
Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing.
Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing.
Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing.
Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing.

Liber Nauticus, and Instructor in the Art of Marine Drawing.

London: Edward Orme, 1805.

Large folio, with printed title page, 16 pp. letterpress description, engraved dedication leaf and a total of 17 plates (12 engraved and 5 aquatints, one of which is handcoloured); recent half calf preserving original blue tinted wrappers.

Superlative naval aquatint book of the Napoleonic era

The first published part to Liber Nauticus, one of the great English naval aquatint books of the Napoleonic era. This ambitious work is the product of a fruitful collaboration between Dominick Serres and his son John Thomas. A Gascon by birth, Dominick Serres was educated at the Benedictine academy at Douai but ran away to sea to escape a life in the clergy. After working as a common seaman on the South American routes he rose to become a master of a ship trading from Havana until captured by a British frigate. When in England, Serres met the famous marine artist Charles Brooking and began a successful new career that included Royal Academy membership and a stint as marine painter to George II. John Thomas followed in his father's footsteps and likewise enjoyed Royal patronage. The title page of the present volume describes him as 'Marine Draught-Man to the Honourable Board of Admiralty'.

The first published part to Liber Nauticus, one of the great English naval aquatint books of the Napoleonic era. This ambitious work is the product of a fruitful collaboration between Dominick Serres and his son John Thomas. A Gascon by birth, Dominick Serres was educated at the Benedictine academy at Douai but ran away to sea to escape a life in the clergy. After working as a common seaman on the South American routes he rose to become a master of a ship trading from Havana until captured by a British frigate. When in England, Serres met the famous marine artist Charles Brooking and began a successful new career that included Royal Academy membership and a stint as marine painter to George II. John Thomas followed in his father's footsteps and likewise enjoyed Royal patronage. The title page of the present volume describes him as 'Marine Draught-Man to the Honourable Board of Admiralty'.

In the elegantly engraved preface leaf titled 'Address to the Amateurs of Marine Drawing', John Thomas Serres outlines his intention for Liber Nauticus: 'Many are the obstacles to the attainment of a proficiency in drawing Marine subjects, particularly as it is not only a requisite that a person desirous in excelling in this Art should possess a knowledge of the construction of a ship, or what is denominated "Naval Architecture"… but he should likewise be acquainted with seamanship." Accordingly, John Thomas published the Liber Nauticus to educate land-locked artists in the technical details of various naval craft so they could accurately depict them in action settings. Thus it was possible to forego the rigour and brutality of naval life and 'even those who are unacquainted with these floating monuments of British Power' could render them with relative ease.

This is an early issue of the first edition, indicated by the single letter printed 'S' as an overslip on the title page correcting 'Nauticum' to 'Nauticus'. Likewise the last letterpress leaf bears the pasted slip reading 'End of Part First'. It is an appealing unsophisticated copy, the original wrappers are present as is the engaging lithographed titling onlay depicting two leviathans beneath a crown formed from masts and sails. The onlay includes the original sale price for the first part of £2/2s, proof that this was an expensive publication in its day.

Abbey, 'Life', 345.

Condition Report: Title-page a little chipped, some plates thumbed and worn at the margins, but a very good copy with generous margins in recent half calf preserving original blue tinted wrappers.

Price (AUD): $4,400.00

US$3,135.15   Other currencies

Ref: #3808815

Condition Report