14 November 2007
LEWIN, William (1747-1795). The Birds of Great Britain, with their eggs, accurately figured. London: Johnson, 1800-1796-1801.
8 parts in 4 volumes, 4° (280 x 225mm). Text in English and French, 336 hand-coloured full-page plates, of which 278 depict birds and 58 eggs. (Occasional light browning and staining.) Modern brown half morocco and contemporary boards.
A handsome copy of the second, much enlarged edition of this major work on ornithology. In 1789 Lewin began to issue The Birds of Great Britain, which he had been working on for the previous twenty years. It included 323 watercolours, 271 of birds and 52 of eggs, which he painted himself for the sixty copies which were published. In 1793 he began to issue a second edition, for which Lewin produced etchings of the first 103 plates, the rest were made by his three sons Thomas, Thomas William and John William. Lewin's outstanding ornithological achievement was that "his was the first attempt to include pictures of the eggs of all known British birds in his book" (Christine Jackson, Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World, 1999, p.336-7). "Most of the figures of the eggs were executed from specimens in the Duchess of Portland's collection" (Anker 306). Nissen 562; Fine Bird Books p. 91. (4)
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