Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 51

Price Realized: $ 750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 400 - $ 600
(ARCHITECTURE.) Robert Dale Owen. Hints on Public Architecture, Containing . . . Views and Plans of the Smithsonian Institution. 15 plates including engraved additional title page; numerous text illustrations. xvii, [3], 119 pages. 4to, publisher's gilt pictorial cloth, rebacked with most of original backstrip laid down, minor wear; minor foxing and offsetting; early gift inscription and later ownership note on flyleaf. New York: George P. Putnam, 1849

Additional Details

This treatise on the future of American architecture was released as plans were being selected for the iconic Smithsonian Institution building in Washington. It was prepared "on behalf of the Building Committee of the Smithsonian Institution" by the chair of the committee, Robert Dale Owen (1801-1877), a former Congressman from Indiana who had secured funding for the project three years earlier. See lot 143 for another work by Owen.

This copy bears a gift inscription from James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895) "to his friend Franklin W. Smith." Renwick was the brilliant young architect of the Smithsonian Institution and New York's Grace Church, who had lent his drawings of both projects to be engraved for this book. He signed without a "Jr.," but the signature is his rather than that of his architect father, suggesting that the inscription was done after his father's death in 1863. The recipient was Franklin Webster Smith (1828-1911), who had been a young abolitionist before the Civil War and later became interested in public architecture. In 1890, Smith delivered lectures in favor of a massive National Gallery of History of Art; Renwick was enlisted to draft a detailed proposal, which Smith then promoted. The gift of this book may date from this 1890 collaboration. The gallery was never built. A later inscription is dated 1950.