Observations on the River Wye, Paperback

Observations on the River Wye Paperback


The work that launched the picturesque movement and changed our ways of looking at landscape forever.

William Gilpin (1724-1804), cleric and educationalist, started travelling in search of picturesque scenes in the 1770's.

His five books of journeys not only describe what he saw, but evaluate every prospect and every scene with critical rigour.

Even a sight as famous, and to the uneducated eye, as beautiful, as Tintern, is shown to be needing some improvement (a tower demolished) before it can reach picturesque perfection.

With these books Gilpin can be thought of not only as the father of the picturesque, but the father of modern tourism.

The "Observations on the River Wye", was the first of Gilpin's books to be published, though not the first to be written, so that it represents not only a founding text of the romantic movement, but also a considered summation of Gilpin's attitudes.

It was illustrated with seventeen aquatints that demonstrate the essentials of particular landscapes - essentially they are lessons in how to look.To read Gilpin today and to look at his prints is to enter an entirely eighteenth-century world, whose clear influence on the way we look and think today is uncanny. Unavailable for many years, this edition is entirely reset from the fifth, revised edition and includes all plates in what is considered to be their best state.

The introduction by Richard Humphreys, Director of Education at the Tate and curator of "A Picture of Britain", assesses the contemporary impact and continuing legacy of Gilpin.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 96 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Pallas Athene Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Local history
  • ISBN: 9781843680048



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