CONCHOLOGY -- HOCH, Johann Gustav (1716-1779). An Album of 521 finely rendered watercolour drawings of seashells, starfish, sea urchins and 3 specimens of fern, on 85 leaves, with manuscript numbering and identification in ink at the top of each leaf. Two-page manuscript introductory text signed and dated by Hoch. [Mainz: 4 December 1771].
2° (467 x 323mm). Modern blue morocco binding by Devauchelle with multi-coloured calf and morocco on-lays forming a shell and starfish design on both covers, olive and blue suede doublures, gilt edges, blue morocco-backed and edged chemise and slipcase.
This album of fine watercolour drawings of seashells presents an artist's appreciation of crustacea at a time just before a rigorous, modern scientific classification had been applied to them by Cuvier. J.G. Hoch, born at Reutlingen in 1716, was primarily a painter of portraits, landscapes and historical scenes. He was a student of Leibold, and had travelled extensively in Europe before establishing himself at Mainz. In his preface to the present drawings, Hoch acknowledges the contemporary interest in collections of crustacea and their publication in copper-plate engravings, but specifies that his intention is to do justice to their variety of colour, a facet which has been ill-served by engraving. As an artist, Hoch was little concerned with the morphology of molluscs, but he does arrange his drawings by type, such as Volutae, Cochleae, Porcelanae, Bivalviae, and Stellae Marinae. In this, he is following closely earlier scientists of mollusces, such as Jacob Theodor Klein, who opposed any method based on characteristics not visible externally. Benezit cites the sale of these drawings (unbound) on 7 December 1967 (Sotheby's) when the signature was misread "Jakob" Hoch.