RENARD, Louis (1678/9-1746). Poissons, Ecrevisses et Crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires, que l'on trouve autour des Isles Moluques, et sur les côtes des Terres Australes. Amsterdam: Louis Renard, [1718 or 1719].
2 volumes in one, 2° (394 x 245mm). Half-titles, titles printed in red and black, 2pp. dedication to George I with engraved royal arms. 100 hand-coloured engraved plates after Samuel Fallours and others, one double-page, each showing two or more subjects, and interleaved with guards of blank paper. (Some variable spotting, a few plates with short marginal tears, plate I, 13 with neatly-repaired tears not affecting image, II, 45 bound in upside-down, II, 57 trimmed at one edge touching platemark.) Contemporary [?English] calf gilt over wooden boards, gilt borders of flower, star, and other tools, early 20th-century spine gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece in one (boards rubbed and scuffed causing small losses at edges, neat repair on lower board). Provenance: early pressmark on upper pastedown -- Granville, Calwich Abbey, Staffordshire (bookplate, most probably Bernard Granville, 1700-1775, purchaser of Calwich Abbey) -- Abel John Ram (either Rev. Abel John Ram, c. 1818-1883, or his son, 1842-1920, bookplate) -- [sale, Christie's London, 15 July 1981, to:] -- [Bernard Quaritch (named buyer and collation note)].
FIRST EDITION. A VERY RARE COPY OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY AND BEAUTIFUL WORK ON THE LARGER AQUATIC ANIMALS TO BE FOUND IN THE EAST INDIES. The plates are based on two collections of drawings: those used in the first volume were commissioned by Balthasar Coyett (1650-1725), who served in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from 1681, spending most of his career in the Far East. His last two postings were as governor of the Banda islands (1694-1701) and of Ambon in the Malay archipelago (1701-1706). Renard notes in his 'Advertisement de l'Editeur' that, during the term of his governorship, Coyett 'encouragea la Pêche de ces Poissons ... & après en avoir fait peindre environ deux-cens, qui avoient été portez en vie dans sa Maison, tant par les Indiens d'Amboine & des Isles voisines, que par les Hollandois qui y sont établis, il en forma deux Receuils, dont Monsieur son Fils [Frederik Julius Coyett] aporta les Originaux [in 1707 or 1708] à Monsieur Scott l'aîné ... Je les ai fait exactement copier'. Although Samuel Fallours (fl. 1703-1720) is acknowledged as the artist of the illustrations in the second volume, he was also responsible for a number of those in the first. He began his career as a soldier in the service of the VOC, first arriving in the Far East in December 1703. His artistic gifts were quickly recognised and he was employed by several officials of the VOC, including Coyett, from 1703 until his retirement in 1706. The second volume is made up from drawings executed by Fallours for Coyett's replacement, Adriaen van der Stel (c. 1665-1720). Renard notes that 'Le second Tome, moins correct, à la vérité, pour l'exactitude des Desseins, mais très-curieux par les Nouveautez dont il est rempli & par les Remarques qui sont à côté de chaque Poisson, a été formé sur les Recueils que Monsieur Van der Stell, présentement Gouverneur des Moluques, a fait faire de ces sortes de Poissons par un Peintre nommé Samuel Fallours, qui me les a aportez des Indes, & dont j'en choisi environ 250, les plus differents que j'ai pû trouver de l'Exemplaire de Monsieur Coyett, comme ayant été pêchez & peints après que ses Receuils étoient achevez'. Renard never visited the East Indies and was completely reliant on information supplied by Fallours and other returning travellers, and, clearly worried by brilliant colours, fantastic shapes and habits of his subjects, felt it necessary to include affidavits from various eye-witnesses testifying to the accuracy of the depictions. Despite these declarations, his work was dismissed at the time as being largely fantasy. However, writing over one hundred years later, Bleeker remarked that, 'Although these figures are partly exaggerated and partly unrecognizable, it later proved that practically every one of them is based on a natural object'. Renard wrote in a letter to J.H. von Bulow of 19 November 1718 that he had had 100 copies of this work printed; however, at most, only 64 sets were issued, as 36 sets of plates still remained uncoloured in 1753 (cf. T.W. Pietsch Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs (Baltimore: 1995), p. 23). Of these 64, Pietsch gives a census of the 16 copies of the first edition that he was able to locate, of which 14 were in institutional collections and only two were in private hands. The work is similarly rare at auction: THIS IS ONE OF ONLY THREE COPIES RECORDED AT AUCTION SINCE 1900 by Anglo-American auction records. Nissen ZBI 3361; Landwehr Dutch Books with Coloured Plates 158.