4 June 2003
PRÊTRE, Jean-Gabriel (fl.1800-1850). An album of 25 original watercolour drawings of birds. [?Paris: c.1835].
4° (304 x 228mm). 25 original watercolour drawings signed by Prêtre, each showing two or three subjects within an ink-ruled border, most with early pencilled identification of subjects in lower margin, tipped into an album. Early 19th-century English red straight-grained morocco gilt, covers with decorative border of fillets and roll tools including a large palmette and anthemion inner roll, the flat spine divided into six compartments, green morocco lettering-pieces in the second and third, the others with a repeat decoration of a large vase surrounded by various smaller tools, gilt turn-ins, gilt edges (later marbled endpapers and lettering-pieces on the spine, a remboîtage).
A fine collection of original ornithological watercolours by Prêtre. Prêtre was born in Switzerland, although the majority of his working life was spent at the natural history museum in Paris. He was a notable contributor to a number of the sumptuous reports produced as records of various French 'grands voyages', including Dumont d'Urville's Voyage de l'Astrolabe, Freycinet's Voyage autour du monde, Laplace's Voyage autour du monde and others. Early in his career Prêtre worked closely with Temminck who paid him the compliment of naming the red-spectacled parrot after him (Phaethornis pretrei). A prolific artist he also illustrated Palisot's Flore d'Oware, Tussac's Flore des Antilles, the Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles published between 1816 and 1830, and the ornithological works of Lesson, Temminck and Vieillot. The present selection appears to be a series of preliminary drawings for images used for the ornithological section of an edition of Buffon's works, probably published during the 1830s.
The collection comprises:
1. Bearded reedling; Crested Tit (Ménge huppée); Long-tailed Tit (Ménge ©a longue queue).
2. Black vulture; Egyptian vulture.
3. Skimmer (le Bec en ciseeaux); Noddy Tern; Avocet.
4. Woodcock (Bécasse); Snipe (Bécassine); Godwit (Barge).
5. [?]; Goldcrest (Roitelet mésange).
6. Black-winged stilt (Échasse); Oystercatcher (Huitrier); Dipper (Merle d'eau).
7. Magpie (Pie); Senegal Magpie (Pie de Senegal); Jay (Geai).
8. Three Quail and Partridge.
9. King Vulture (Roi des Vautours); South American vulture (Urubu).
10. Chough; Crow (Corbeau); Carrion Crow (Corbine).
11. Wood duck (le Beau carnard huppé); Teal (Sarcelle); Mandarin duck.
12. Blackcock(Coq de la Bruyere); Hazel Grouse; Capercaillie.
13. [?] (Sarcelle rousse); [?] (Sarcell blanche); a petrel (Pétrel cendré).
14. Buzzard; Sparrowhawk; Red Kite.
15. Black Francolin (Francolin); Rock partridge (Bartavelle); Red-legged partridge (Perdix rouge).
16 Harrier (Épervier); Sparrowhawk; Gyrfalcon (Gerfaut). Signed in pencil.
17. Osprey (Balbuzard); Sea eagle (Orfraie); Short-toed eagle (Jean-le-blanc).
18. Guinea-fowl (Pintade); Cock (Coq); Turkey (Dindon).
19. Griffon vulture; Lammergeier (Gypaéte barbu).
20. 2 fancy or domestic pigeons and a rock dove.
21. Curlew (Courlieu); Glossy ibis (Courlis vert); Lapwing.
22. Barnacle goose; Eider duck (Eider); Mallard (Canard).
23. Mute swan (Cygne); a Goose (Oie); Flamingo (Flamant).
24. Tufted puffin; a guillemot of razorbill.
25. A song-bird; Song thrush; Blackbird (Merle).
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