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John Shute's 'The first and chief groundes of architecture', 1563

John Shutes The first and chief groundes of architecture 1563

John Shute’s book is the first treatise on architecture in English. It also has the earliest architectural intaglio prints published in Britain. Following Vitruvius, Serlio and Philander it describes the classical orders of architecture, together with the requirements for the 'perfecte architecte'.

Little is known about Shute, a 'painter and archytecte'. His patron, John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, sent him to Italy in 1550 to study the works of 'ye skilful maisters in architecture'. He returned with sketches that were shown to Edward VI. Tudor politics intervened and his works were not published until 1563.

Our book is one of fewer than 10 surviving copies.

Image: Page from 'The first and chief groundes of architecture' by John Shute, 1563, showing the Composite order; image from RIBApix (number RIBA69900)
Artist: John Shute (d. 1563)
Credit: RIBA Collections

Article by Cathy Wilson, RIBA
5 January 2015

Discover more

This is just one of over four million items in our world-class architectural collections at the RIBA Library – it's open to everyone and access is free. Visit the library to explore our collections of books, periodicals, drawings, photographs and models:

  1. Book
    Shute, J., 1563
    'The first and chief groundes of architectvre: used in all the auncient and famous monymentes: with a farther & more ample discouse [sic] uppon the same, than hitherto hath been set out by any other' London: Thomas Marshe
    Shelved at E.f.526 [EARLY-IMPS]
  2. Book
    Weaver, L., 1912
    'The first & chief groundes of architecture by John Shute... first printed in 1563 ; a facsimile of the first edition'
    London: Country Life
    Shelved at 72:013(42) // SHU [SR]
  3. Book
    Savage, N., et al., 1994-2003
    'Early printed books 1478-1840 : catalogue of the British Architectural Library Early Imprints Collection'
    London, Bowker-Saur
    Shelved at 017 [Reference]

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