Daniel Rabel (?1578-1637), Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), John Johnston (1603-1675) & Nicolas Robert (1614-1685).
Maria Sibylla MERIAN (1647-1717) & Daniel RABEL (?1578-1637). Histoire Generale des Insects de Surinam et de L'Europe contenant leur figures, leur différentes metamorphoses, par Mademoiselle Marie Sybille Merian, en deux parties in folio. Troisième édition, revue, corrigée & considérablement augmentée par M. Buchoz - médecin botaniste de feue Sa Majesté le Roi de Pologne. A la quelle on a joint une troisiìme partie qui traite des plus belles fleurs, telles que des Plantes bulbeuses, liliacées, caryophillées &c. Paris: Chez L.C. Desnos, 1771. 3 parts in 2 volumes. Hand-coloured engraved additional title and 326 hand-coloured engraved plates on 188 leaves (i.e.Vol.I: '..Tome Premier, Des Plantes de Surinam': 72 hand-coloured engraved plates [1 folding] by J. Mulder, P. Sluyter and D. Stopendaal, all after Merian. '..Tome Second, Des Plantes de l'Europe.' 185 hand-coloured engraved plates of flowers and insects on 47 leaves [1 folding] by Merian. Vol.II: '..Tome Troisième, Des Plantes Bulbeuse, Liliacées, Caryophyllées.' Hand-coloured engraved additional allegorical title, 69 hand-coloured engraved plates of flowers after Rabel).
[Volume II also contains:]
John JONSTON (1603-1675) & Nicolas ROBERT (1614-1685). Histoire Naturelle et Raisonnée des differens oiseaux qui habitent le globe... Traduite du Latin de Jonston, considerablement augmentée...A De laquelle on a fait preceder l'Histoire particuliere des Oiseaux de la Menagerie du Roi... par le celebre Robert, & graves par lui-meme. Paris: Chez L.C. Desnos, 1773-1774. 2 parts. 85 engraved plates (the 23 in part I by Robert).
The 2 works, in five parts, in two volumes, folio (501 x 328mm). (Some browning to text in the first volume, occasional light spotting.) Contemporary Parisian olive-green morocco gilt, covers with triple-fillet border, spines in eight compartments with raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in the second and third, the others with a repeat pattern made up of small tools including flower-sprays, flower-heads and foliage, comb-marbled endpapers, g.e. (spines somewhat faded, neat repairs to leather on both covers of the 1st vol. and the lower cover of the 2nd volume). Provenance: D.G. Cavrasco (early inscription).
A MAGNIFICENT AND RARE COLLECTION OF NATURAL HISTORY WORKS GATHERED TOGETHER BY DESNOS TO INCLUDE PLATES FROM SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BOTANICAL AND ORNITHOLOGICAL WORKS OF THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES, FINELY BOUND IN CONTEMPORARY FRENCH GREEN MOROCCO. An exceptionally rare work, a complete set of Desnos' natural history collection has not been sold at auction in the last 25 years. The first work includes both of Merian's great works as well as a third part after Rabel (in essence a revised fourth edition of his Theatrum florae) on the most beautiful flowering plants of the early 17th century. The second work includes 23 plates by Robert, who with Rabel, was one of the two greatest natural history artists of the 17th century, as well as a reprint of 62 plates from Jonston's charming work.
The rarest section of this extarordinary compilation is the third part to the first work, an unacknowledged fourth edition of Daniel Rabel's Theatrum florae. It includes all 69 of the plates that are present in the first three editions (published without text in Paris in 1622, 1627 and 1633 respectively), and only lacks the engraved frontispiece and title. The plate captions found in the earlier editions have been burnished out, but reappear almost word for word in the text. The additional text is, in part if not all, by Bu'choz. The 17th-century editions are generally found with the plates uncoloured (the only coloured copy to appear at auction in the last 25 years was the de Belder copy, sold for £150,000, and now in the Oak Spring Garden Library). The colouring of the present set of plates is of a uniformly high standard, each of the 69 unsigned plates displaying flower groupings, generally with members of the same family sharing the same plate. The plants include all the most decorative flowers available to 17th-century gardeners and is truly '..une tres-jolie collection..qui ont été dessinées & gravées d'après nature.' (see preface to vol.I). Desnos goes on to note that 'Ces plantes paroissent être précisément les mêmes que celles qui se trouvent gravées dans Suvert'. We have been unable to find any trace of Suvert but this may be a misreading of Emanual Sweert's family name? Given that there is apparently still some doubt as to whether or not Rabel engraved his own plates, as none of them are signed and that his name did not appear on the title until the third edition, it may well be that his Theatrum florae had come to be attributed to Sweert by the later part of the 18th century.
The larger part of the work is devoted to the Merian plates that were apparently bought by Desnos at the auction in Paris of the collection of "Un Curieux de Paris", who had himself secured the plates in Amsterdam many years earlier. Maria Merian was the daughter of the well-known Swiss engraver/publsher Matthaeus Merian. Her mother was Dutch, and on Merian's early death she married the flower painter Jacob Marrell. It was one of his pupils, Johann Graff of Nuremberg, who first taught Maria to paint, and later they married. Maria was primarily interested in entomology ("Des ma jeunesse je me suis apliquee a l'examen des Insectes"), and her first book (Der Raupen wundere Verwanddelung und sonderbare Blumennahrung..) here included, in folio, with additional plates first published in 1730 as Tome Second. Des Plantes de l'Europe. Some years after the appearance of the first part this work, having left Graff, she was shown a collection of tropical insects which had been bought back from Surinam. This inspired her, and, together with her daughter Dorothea, she embarked on what was at the time a remarkably enterprising journey. They arrived in South America in June 1701 and stayed for two years studying and recording the plants and insects, the results of their labours being the magnificent Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium.. with 60 plates, published in 1705. Later editions, including the present issue (...Tome Premier. Des Plantes de Surinam), were extended to include an additional 12 plates by Maria's eldest daughter Johanna. The work was not the first colour plate book to appear in the 18th century but Maria Merian's artistic groupings of the insects amidst tropical flora makes this book one of the most beautiful and unusual in the whole range of natural history. Peter Dance writes of the work, that it was "easily the most magnificent work on insects so far produced... [combining] science and art in unequal proportions, meeting the demands of art at the expense, when necessary, of science. Her portrayals of living insects and other animals were imbued with a charm, a minuteness of observation and artistic sensibility that had not previuosly been seen in a natural history book" (The Art of Natural History ).
The second work consists of a reissue of most of the plates from two of Robert's works on the birds of the royal menagerie at Versailles (Receuil…; and Suite des Oyseauxles plus rare) , both originally published in Paris in 1676, and in part II a French edition of Johnston's work on birds. This work was also issued separately by Desnos under the title Collection d'oiseaux les plus rares (Paris: 1772-1774).
No references to the complete set, but, for
Merian: cf. Blunt (1994) pp.142-145; cf. Dunthorne 205; cf. Great Flower Books (1990) p. 119; cf. Hunt 483; cf. Catalogue of the Library of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society p.210; Nissen 1341-2.
Rabel: no mention of this later edition but, for references to 17th-century editions, see: Blunt (1994) p.115; BM (NH) V,p.2088; Cleveland 176 and 187; Hunt. Printmaking in the Service of Botany 14; Nissen BBI 1575; L.Tongiorgi Tomasi An Oak Spring Flora 15; Pritzel 10855.
Second work: cf. Anker 238; cf. Nissen IVB 484; cf. Ronsil 1503; cf. Wood p.410. (2)