3 December 2010
SOWERBY, James De Carle (1787-1871) and Edward LEAR (1812-1888). Tortoises, Terrapins, and Turtles drawn from life. Text by John Edward Gray. London, Paris and Frankfurt: Taylor & Francis for Henry Sotheran and Joseph Baer & Co., 1872.
2o (374 x 273 mm). 60 lithographic plates, 57 hand-colored, all drawn on stone by Edward Lear after J.D.C. Sowerby. (Gutta-percha of binding perished resulting in some loose leaves, occasional spotting.) Original brown morocco-backed pebble-grained cloth, titled in gilt on spine, top edges gilt (hinges cracked). Provenance: ALJ (monogrammed bookplate); H.L. Babcock (bookplate).
FIRST COMPLETE EDITION OF THESE LITHOGRAPHS BY EDWARD LEAR. The plates had been prepared by Lear from Sowerby's drawings for Thomas Bell's Monograph of the Testudinata, published in parts from 1836 to 1842. The work was never completed and only 40 plates were published. The "unsold stock and unpublished plates were purchased at Mr. Highley's sale by Mr. Sotheran" (Introduction). Sotheran's decided to issue the complete set of plates and J.E. Gray (1800-1875) of the British Museum undertook to update the text. The present work is the result. The introduction mentions that the original run of the plates were colored by one of the great colorists Mr. Bayfield (he had also worked on Lear's plates for Gray's Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall (see lot 306), but even though the coloring is stunning, it is not clear if the present plates are from this original run, or colored by Sotheran's for this issue. BM(NH) V,p.1984; Nissen ZBI 1701; Wood 1872.
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