Coenraad Jacob Temminck (1778-1858) and Antoinette Pauline Jacqueline Knip (1781-1851)
Histoire Naturelle Générale des Pigeons. Paris: Garneray, 1808[-1811]. 1 volume, 2° (522 x 350mm). 87 fine coloured plates after Knip, etched by César Macret, all printed in colours and finished by hand, EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 5 ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS OF PIGEONS. (Occasional spotting, more noticeable to about 19 plates, three plates with neat repairs to lower blank margins, light old dampstaining to blank margins of final 19 leaves.) Contemporary Dutch marbled calf gilt by A. van Rossum of Amsterdam, covers with decorative border of greek-key roll and inner decorative roll, the flat spine divided into seven compartments by horizontal bands made up from a greek-key roll flanked by other decorative rolls, red morocco lettering-piece in the second compartment, large centrally-placed oval tool in each of the other compartments, marbled endpapers, binders ticket at foot of front free endpaper (neat repairs to head and foot of spine and corners).
A UNIQUE COPY WITH FIVE ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS, POSSIBLY BY MADAME KNIP: FIRST EDITION, WITH FIRST ISSUE TITLE AND TEXT, ONE OF 12 TWELVE COPIES 'APPROVED' BY TEMMINCK WITH ADDITIONAL HAND-COLOURING TO THE PLATES, IN EFFECT AN 'EXEMPLAIRE SOIGNé', FINELY BOUND IN A CONTEMPORARY DUTCH BINDING. This issue includes the text as originally envisioned by the author before the alterations made for Madame Knip's second issue. The plates in the present copy have considerable additional hand-colouring: this is particularly evident on the perches on which many of the birds are placed. In usual copies these are purely colour-printed, but in the present example carefully composed and beautifully executed foliage has been added. This heightens the illusion that the birds have all been pictured from life in the wild. In general, it is also clear that much greater care has been taken with the colouring of the plummage of all the birds. The result is that the images are truly 'among the finest of all bird plates' (Fine Bird Books).
The additional watercolours bound into this copy are all of subjects that are already represented by plates after Madame Knip. Their style and skill of execution are certainly a match for Madame Knip's work but they are unfortunately unsigned and cannot be definitely be assigned to her. The subjects (using Temminck's nomenclature) are as follows: 1. Colombe Géant; 2. Colombe Rammeron mâle; 3. Colombe Grivelée mâle; 4. Colombe Largup; 5. Colombi-Galline Goura.
The work was issued in 15 parts, initially under the control of Temminck who was based in Amsterdam. However, at the time of the publication of the ninth part Madame Knip apparently appropriated the work, issued a new title and made some alterations to the text, and the work was eventually published under the title Les Pigeons, par Madame Knip with the title dated 1811. A second volume, issued under Madame Knip's control, with text by Prevost, and 60 additional plates, was added to the second edition published between 1838 and 1843.
Unfortunately their are no indications as to who originally owned the present work, but Temminck himself may well be a possible candidate. Aside from the evident care with which this copy has been assembled, there are two external factors that would support this supposition: Temminck's liking for extra-illustrated natural history works, which is mentioned in the 1858 auction catalogue of his library, and the relatively recent appearance of a similarly presented work which came from his library (Francois Levaillant's Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d'Afrique, Jeanson copy, sale Monaco, Sotheby's 16 June 1988, lot 280). Cf. Anker 261 ('The copies which Temminck received from Madame Knip, among which eight were due to him as author, were not altered, and bore the title [as above]... Only twelve such copies were approved by Temminck'); cf. Coues pp.794-797; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990) p.113; Nissen IVB 511; Ronsil p.466 and cf. 2890; cf. Zimmer pp.356-7.