DODART, DENIS [and NICOLAS ROBERT]. Memoires pour servir à l'histoire des plantes. Paris: Imprimerie royale, (1675-) 1676.
Large folio, binding: 572 x 416 x 22mm., CONTEMPORARY FRENCH RED MOROCCO, presentation binding with gilt arms of Louis XIV (Olivier 10, largest size) on sides, framed by a three-line gilt fillet panel with crowned monogram (Olivier 21, larger size) at corners, three-line gilt fillet outer border; spine in eight compartments with seven raised bands, gilt-lettered in one compartment, a smaller version of the same royal monogram in the rest, board edges and turn-ins gilt, g.e., extremities slightly worn and bruised, some stains and minor abrasion on sides, but the binding in good condition. Title and a few leaves spotted, some showthrough from plates.
"FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE GREAT BOOKS IN THE HISTORY OF BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION, WHERE ALL THE TECHNICAL RESOURCES OF ENGRAVING WERE UTILIZED IN PRESENTING THE PLANS AS ACCURATELY AS POSSIBLE" (Hunt). Engraved frontispiece by Goyton after Sebastien le Clerc, 3 engraved vignettes, 39 engraved plates by Nicolas Robert and Abraham Bosse after Robert's drawings.
Nicolas Robert's plates have long been regarded as the finest botanical engravings ever produced; certainly they represent a gigantic leap forward from the botanical illustrations preceding them. Many of his original drawings are in the Jardin des Plantes. This is one of the first publications of the Académie royale des sciences. The engraved frontispiece, the first illustration of the meeting of a learned society, shows a meeting of the Academy in the Royal Library at Versailles, with Louis XIV and his minister Colbert present. The book was a pilot for the celebrated Histoire des plantes which was issued first in 1701, and again in 1788. Neither of these issues was offered for sale; most were royal gifts.
Hunt 343; Nissen BBI 502; Pritzel 2341.
Provenance: Arpad Plesch, booklabel, (sale, Sotheby's London, 17 June 1975, lot 210) -- Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 27 April 1987, lot 107).