20 November 2003
HAYES, William (1735-1802). A Natural History of British Birds, &c with their portraits, accurately drawn, and beautifully coloured from nature. London: printed for S. Hooper, [1770-]1775.
Large 2° (523 x 358mm). Letterpress title, 24pp. descriptive text. Engraved calligraphic dedication to Elizabeth, Countess of Northumberland, 40 fine hand-coloured etched plates, 2 double-page by Gabriel Smith and Hayes after Hayes. (Outer upper blank corner of the fourth plate torn away and repaired, 22nd plate with 30mm. repaired tear to lower margin and shaved into image area at upper margin, small old holes, possibly paperfaults, in the 28th and 39th plates.) Contemporary French mottled calf gilt, spine in seven compartments with raised bands, brown morocco lettering-piece in the second, the others decorated with various floral small tools, g.e. (spine chipped at head and foot with neat repair at foot).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS RARE WORK. The lively and exuberant plates are relatively accurate as far as the appearance of the birds is concerned, but little attempt was made to place them in their natural settings. The plates are also noteworthy as being amongst the earliest attempts to depict the birds life-size. Hayes 'was a good bird artist... and his impressive large portraits of British species... were used to make forty folio etched hand-coloured plates, including 47 bird figures, for... [the present work]... Hayes executed all but eight of the plates himself... At this stage he appears to have been learning how to produce his own etched plates from Gabriel Smith, the etcher of the other eight plates in his book' (Christine Jackson Bird Etchings pp.122-123). Anker 198; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.105; Christine Jackson Bird Etchings p.135; Mullens & Swann p.287; Nissen IVB 421; Zimmer pp.293-294.
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