Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Art & Architecture > 58. John Shute

58.  John Shute (d. 1563).  The First and Chief Grovndes of Architectvre vsed in all the auncient and famous monymentes: with a farther & more ample discouse vppon the same, than hitherto hath been set out by any other. Pvblished by Ihon Shute, Paynter and Archytecte. London: Thomas Marshe, 1563. Avery Library, Classics Collection

The First and Chief Grovndes of Architectvre is the first book in English on architecture and of excessive rarity, even in an imperfect copy such as Avery Library's, one of only two copies held outside the British Isles. Shute was a painter-stainer and does not seem to have worked as an architect, although he identifies himself as such. He had visited Rome and includes his own accounts of ancient buildings there, although his text in the main is indebted to Vitruvius, Philandrier, and Serlio, being largely a manual on the five orders.

The book's four engraved plates are less accomplished than contemporaneous Continental work. The larger woodcut illustration of the Composite order has, perhaps, greater charm and is the one original plate surviving in the Avery copy. Shute's book was influential in establishing English architectural terminology. One of the earliest English textbooks, it appears to have been popular, going through three further editions in the sixteenth century. These editions are even scarcer than the first, with no copies traced for two of them. According to library lore, the first edition was serendipitously acquired for Columbia when an Avery librarian walked into a London bookshop and asked if they had any Shute.

Purchase, ca. 1947

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