Autograph manuscript, signed ("H.Repton") for Wherstead, A Seat of Sir Robert Harland, bart. in Suffolk, Hare Street, Romford, 24 September 1791, 8 leaves of text, 3 watercolors (1 with overslip), bound as an oblong octavo (9 x 11 3/8 in.; 228 x 289 mm); marginal soiling, two light stains on one leaf. Contemporary sheep, gilt roll-tooled Greek key frame, Repton's trade card mounted on verso of front free endpaper; rebacked with original spine laid down, sewing broken and leaves coming loose, top and bottom edges rubbed.
One of Repton's famous "Red Books." Essentially a marketing tool, the Red Books contained plans and views of possible improvements to an estate. Some of his ideas were so elaborate and costly that they were never executed for his clients. "The Red Books functioned in various ways: as plans, often as a base for working drawings and itemized directions; as a record of work in progress which Repton had already recommended on site or by letter; as an album of views ... as an advertisement for Repton's work ... put in the shop window of a Pall Mall bookseller to solicit subscriptions for Repton's first published treatise" (Daniel, pp. 10–11).
Repton's trade card depicts a surveyor at his theodolite taking a bearing with a figure standing next to him with a ranging rod "who looks less like an assistant than one of Gainsborough's lounging young landowners" (Daniel, p. 11). In the background are laborers digging near a lake or river, with a picturesque gothic tower looming on the horizon.
Wherstead Park mansion was built by Sir Robert Harland, High Steward of Ipswich 1821–1848. The family of Edward FitzGerald, translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, lived at Wherstead Park for ten years from 1825.
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