14 November 2007,
London, King Street
Price realised GBP 108,500
Estimate GBP 60,000 - GBP 80,000
LEVAILLANT, François (1753-1824). Histoire naturelle des perroquets. Paris: Levrault frères and Levrault, Schoell & Co., 1801-1805.
2 volumes, 2° (490 x 312mm). Half-titles, index leaves, 145 fine engraved plates after Jacques Barraband, printed in colours and finished by hand by Langlois under the direction of Bouquet. (Occasional browning to a few of the text leaves, very light marginal spotting to a few plates.) Contemporary red morocco signed J.M. Jacobs Antwerp, spines gilt with title on green morocco lettering-piece (edges slightly rubbed).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE SCARCEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL OF LEVAILLANT'S WORKS. Levaillant, one of the greatest French ornithologists, was the son of the French consul in Dutch Guiana. He was born in Paramarimbo and seems to have inherited his father's love of travel. He became one of the first of a new breed of naturalists who attained prominence towards the end of the 18th century, studying and recording their subjects in their natural habitat. Barraband (1767 or 1768-1809) worked for the Gobelin factory and was considered the best ornithological artist of his time. Langlois's engravings capture the precision and beauty of his gouache and watercolour originals. "After he had made himself Emperor, it was part of Napoleon's deliberate policy to initiate a series of magnificent publications that would vie with those undertaken on the orders of Louis XIV. These were sent as presents to crowned heads, men of science, and learned bodies, in evidence of the splendours of the Empire .... The works of Levaillant owe their sumptous character to ... this impetus. His Histoire naturelle des perroquets is, unwittingly, a part of the glories of Napoleonic France" (Fine Bird Books p.90). Anker 303; Nissen IVB 558; Zimmer p. 392. (2)
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