May 2020

In this newsletter . . .


If we can't physically go there perhaps we can read something by people who have been there. It's a good moment to look at the backlist and I've chosen two titles with a foreign angle - foreign if you live in the UK anyway.

We do have three new titles that are in their early stages and we'll be reporting on them in future newsletters.

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The lost colours of the Cyclades

Text and recipes by John Sutcliffe


Our image of the Greek islands is of an all-white architecture set against a blue sky and an emerald sea. But, in this his second book for the Press, John Sutcliffe reveals that it was not always thus. Certainly the sea and the sky have always been that way but in living memory the islands of the Cyclades were a very colourful place sporting a host of colours.

Working for a client in his role as a decorative artist, John spent a good deal of time in the islands and so was able to look behind today's ubiquitous white to find a whole range of blues, greens, pinks, yellows, greys . . . He 'captured' them in the field in watercolours and brought them back home, twenty in all.

Research led him to find out why the switch happened, and happened quite quickly, so that white is now the colour we expect and the original colours have been lost behind the whitewash. As well as telling that story, the book describes the twenty colours, each of which is represented in the text by a hand-painted strip.

And because you can never really get a full appreciation of a colour until you see it in a large enough mass, there is a portfolio of sheets, each bearing one of the colours, again all hand-painted (that was a tedious job ...).

Finally, how could the book not be made even more delicious except with some local recipes for you to try - marathopita anyone? (fennel pie to you and me).

The text is set in Monotype Perpetua and printed on Madrid Litho. The book is bound in full cloth, silk-screened in the colours of the Greek flag, and the book and portfolio come in a folder. All for just 185 plus shipping.

You can see more of the book on this short guided tour on YouTube.


Palladio's Homes

A visit to thirteen of Andrea Palladio's country houses


This book arose out of our liking for Palladio's villas in the Veneto. They felt so very liveable-in. Over the years we have visited many of them - and even stayed in one - and this book arose out of one of those visits.

Palladio designed perhaps thirty domestic villas of which about nineteen survive (the exact numbers depend on how you count them). His influence on later architecture was considerable and remains to this day - 'Palladianism' entered the vocabulary of architects world-wide. He left not only a legacy of fine buildings, but also a detailed exposition of his ideas in his I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura ('The Four Books of Architecture'), first published in 1570. He prefaced his descriptions of his villa designs in I Quattro Libri with chapters laying out his general principles for the placing and design of villas. Palladio's Homes reprints those chapters in the original Italian together with a parallel translation by the English architect Isaac Ware writing in 1738.

I Quattro Libri was considered so important by later architects that they would travel to Italy to see Palladio's work for themselves, scribbling their own views in the margins of their copies. Our book includes these and other reflections - not always complimentary - alongside Palladio's descriptions of each villa. Amongst those quoted are architects Inigo Jones and Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, Goethe, sixteenth-century power-walker Thomas Coryat (of Coryat's Crudities fame), and a more recent visitor, Witold Rybczynski, Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, who recorded his own visits in the 1990s in The Perfect House. Professor Rybczynski has written a new essay on Palladio and his legacy for Palladio's Homes.

We commissioned Italian artist Signor Carlo Rapp to prepare illustrations for seven of the thirteen villas covered, using linocuts and pen and ink drawings. (An opportunity to inflict my poor Italian on someone.) This opening shows his illustration for Palladio's first villa, Villa Godi.

It's always pleasing to match materials to content. The text is set in 14pt Dante, a typeface designed by Giovanni Mardersteig, and a face that we have very much taken to. For the paper we placed a large order for some delicious paper from Cartiera Amatruda in Amalfi. For the cover paper we went to the USA and to paper-makers Cave Paper for a stunning blue-sky-with-clouds paper. An edition of 170 copies. 250 plus shipping.

You can see more of the book on this short guided tour on YouTube.

If you would like to read more about the making of this book there is a photo story here.

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Copyright Martyn Ould 2020