Edouard Traviès (1809-1865) [?and Jean Louis Tirpenne (1801-?)]
[Les Oiseaux les plus remarquables par leurs formes et leurs couleurs. Scènes variées de leurs moeurs & de leurs habitudes. Paris: Ledot aîné (or Berrieux) and London: E.Gambart & Co. (or Victor Delarue), c. 1857]. Large 2° (593 x 438mm). Mounted on guards throughout. 78 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates by Traviès (i.e. plates numbered 1-59, 61-78 plus an inserted plate of butterflies numbered 60 from another series by Traviès, printed by Lemercier). Modern red half morocco gilt, titled in gilt on large shield-shaped red cloth fragment from original binding onset onto upper cover, spine in six compartments delineated by fillets in gilt and blind, lettered in the second compartment in gilt, the others with repeat panelled decoration in gilt, t.e.g., modern cloth box.
A VERY FINE COPY OF THIS BEAUTIFUL WORK, "some of the plates are simply wonderful, and are among the best portraits of birds ever painted" (McGill/Wood). Travies was perhaps the first artist to capture the character of individual birds. This, together with the wealth of detail in the backgrounds, give great charm to the images and lift them above mere ornithological illustration. Nissen lists the book as the work of Tirpenne as well as of Traviès, but is not clear why. This scarce volume appears to have been issued in serial form as a suite of plates, without title or text, in various states and at least two editions. Plate 67 La Pie is found in two editions: printed by Becquet, or (as here) Lemercier; the publishers' names also vary and no order of precedence has been established.
Traditionally this work requires 79 plates but, to judge from past auction records, plates 60 and 79 were never published. The present copy contains a suite of plates numbered from 1-78, without plate 79 as usual, and with a plate numbered 60 of butterflies from another series by Traviès (possibly Oiseaux et papillons, a suite of 93 plates). It may be that the publishers (or Traviès), in an attempt to mollify subscribers after printing/publishing difficulties with the two "missing" plates, made available either the butterfly plate or another plate of the individual subscriber's choice (a copy sold in April 1988 included one from the La venerie series). Fine Bird Books p.111; Nissen IVB 946 (giving Tirpenne as co-author); Ronsil 2953; Wood p.601.