Chorui shasei fu [Album of bird studies], a series of four Japanese albums of original ornithological watercolours. Kyushu: [circa 1850]. 4 volumes, large oblong 4° (263.5 x 337.5mm). 115 original pen, ink and watercolour drawings on 95 leaves, 29 with integral manuscript identification in Japanese characters, 75 with tipped in manuscript identification labels. Blue green and yellow woven silk covers over board, calligraphic manuscript paper label on upper cover of each album, gold-flecked cream paper pastedowns, the four albums within a single blue cloth slipcase with bone clasps, calligraphic manuscript label on upper 'cover', all within a modern blue cloth box, blue morocco lettering-piece to 'spine'. Provenance: Julia Parker Wightman (bookplate and 'chop' in each volume).
A unique collection of high quality drawings from a Japanese bird artist of great ability, beautifully presented in four matching albums. The albums are presented in the traditional Japanese style with the leaves concertined together and with no spines to the binding. The drawings may be by two distinct hands: the birds in the album with integral manuscript identification are on a smaller scale than those in the three remaining albums, which also show a uniform style that is not matched in the first album. The album contents are as follows: Volume 1. 29 birds on 14 leaves, each with integral identification in Japanese characters; Volume 2. 30 birds on 29 leaves, 27 with applied labels; Volume 3. 28 birds and 2 bats on 27 leaves, 23 with applied labels; Volume 4. 26 birds on 25 leaves, 25 with applied labels. The subjects include a cross-section from the world of ornithology, presented in no particular order, and including birds of prey, crows, jays, woodpeckers, finches and other song birds, ducks, geese, cranes, herons and sea-birds.