BLOCH, Marcus Elieser (1723-1799). Ichthyologie, ou Histoire naturelle, generale et particuliere des poissons. Berlin: Chez l'auteur [François de la Garde], 1785-97.
A fine and complete copy of Bloch's monumental work, "possibly the most beautiful book on fishes ever published" (Dance). First edition in French, published contemporaneously with the German edition. Bloch, a German medical doctor and naturalist, is considered one of the most important ichthyologists of the 18th century and is best known for this encyclopedic work in ichthyology. The drawings were taken from his collection of some 1,500 fish, the largest collection of its time, which he put together from purchases made both at home and from returning travelers from all over the world, including Sir William Hamilton in Naples. From the library of Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Exeter (1795-1867), Lord Chamberlain and Lord Steward of the Household to Queen Victoria, whose ancestor, William Cecil, served as Queen Elizabeth I's advisor for much of his life. Nissen ZBI 416; Dance, p. 56.
Twelve volumes bound in 6, folio (475 x 281mm). 12 title-pages with engraved vignettes; 432 engraved plates with original hand-color, some heightened in gold, silver, and bronze to reflect the metallic sheen of fish scales (very occasional light spotting or soiling, title to vol. 5 with some tears at inner edge, light soiling to plate 316 in vol. 5). 19th-century black half morocco gilt, all edges gilt (extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: Brownlow Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Exeter KG, PC (1795-1867, Lord Chamberlain and Lord Steward of the Household to Queen Victoria; bookplate) – Sir Jocelyn Stevens CVO (1932-2014; his sale, Bonhams, 27 June 2006, lot 19).