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Sporting Art, Gentleman’s Recreations, Richard Blome, Folio Book with Prints, 1710


Richard Blome (1635-1705) (author)
The Gentleman’s Recreations: In Three Parts
Richard Blome, London: 1710
Folio, calf, three parts in one volume, 2nd edition
17 x 11 inches
Provenance: Bowater Vernon, Hanbury Hall, England

A rare, large early 18th century leather-bound folio book with 80 full-page engraved illustrations. This encyclopedic work, by Richard Blome, was intended for the education and edification of the British country gentleman at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment. The work consists of three parts, the first being an introduction to the liberal arts and sciences, including architecture, astronomy and cosmology, astrology, geography, mathematics, military theory, music, philosophy, rhetoric, sculpture, etc. The remainder of the book is a treatise on sporting and agriculture, staples of life of an aristocrat on his country estate. It includes hunting (fox, fowl, stags, etc.), falconry, and fishing.

For further information, page down to Product Description below.


Blome first published the book in 1680; this is the second edition with an engraved additional title and 80 copper-engraved plates (three folding), bound in original paneled calf binding. 19 of the liberal arts and sciences plates combine informative charts within decorative borders showing people studying the subject. The other engravings throughout tend to portray figures in landscape settings. Many plates have engraved dedications in the lower margin to the aristocratic patrons who subscribed to the original publication.

This particular example has the bookplate of Bowater Vernon (1683-1735), a wealthy Englishman. The bookplate is inscribed beneath a coat of arms, “Bowater Vernon of Hanbury Hall in ye County of Worcester Esqr.” As was typical for a man of his station of the period, Vernon divided his time between his home in London and the country: principally Holt Castle in Worcestershire until the last two years of his life, when he lived at Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire, which he had inherited from his cousin. A 1734 portrait of Vernon that still hangs in Hanbury Hall today portrays him living the life of a country gentleman, hunting on his estate with his horses and dogs, his splendid manor house in the background.

There is an additional bookplate affixed to this book (presumably of its second owner) with a coat of arms associated with Randal William McDonnell, Earl of Antrim (1749-1791), an Irish nobleman. This attribution is based on a virtually identical coat of arms on a print dedicated to McDonnell published in 1782 which combines the MacDonnell/McDonnell coat of arms and the motto “Tout Jours Pret” with the motto and insignia of the Knights of the Order of the Bath, a British order of chivalry to which the Earl belonged.

Richard Blome was among the most active publishers of cartographic and illustrated books in late 17th and early 18th century London. He was the first publisher in England for 40 years to prepare a new folio world atlas, the first in over 60 years to publish a new set of folio county maps, the first to seriously plan an illustrated description of London, and the first to plan a series of volumes related to the various world continents. In the 1680s, Blome issued The Gentleman’s Recreation, The History of The Old Testament and a three-volume translation of the works of French philosopher Rene Descartes.

Full Title: The Gentleman’s Recreations: In Three Parts. The Full Part contains A Short and Easie Introduction to all the Liberal Arts and Sciences, &c. The Second treats of Horsemanship, Hawking, Hunting, Fowling, Fishing, Agriculture, &c. Done from the most Authentick Authors…The Third is A Compleat Body of all our Forest, Chace, and Game-Laws, as they are at this Time…

Condition: Contents generally very good, with the usual overall light handling, wear, toning. Covers and spine a bit worn, front cover detached; all will be professionally restored by book conservator, included in above price.


Baynton-Williams, Ashley. “Richard Blome.” Issue 9. (3 June 2002).

“Bowater Vernon with Hanbury Hall and Its Formal Garden.” National Trust UK. (22 June 2010).

Harris, Andrew. “The Vernons of Hanbury Hall.” Dodderhill Parish Survey Project. 2007. (22 June 2010).

Harting, James Edmund. Bibliotheca Accipitraria. A Catalogue of Books Ancient & Modern Relating to Falconry. 1891. Reprint ed. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino Publishing, 2000. pp. 30-31.

Schwerdt, Charles Francis George Richard. Hunting, Hawking, Shooting Illustrated in A Catalogue of Books, Manuscripts, Prints,and Drawings Collected by C.G.F.R. Schwerdt. Vol 1. Reprint ed. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino Publishing, 1996. p. 72.

“To the Right Honorable Randal William McDonnell, …” Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. (24 June 2010).

Additional information


18th Century