HOWITT, Samuel (1756-1822). An album of original watercolour drawings of British animals and birds, [London: c.1820].
2° (407 x 325mm). 36 original drawings in pencil and watercolour, some with pen and ink, each signed in lower corner, 175 x 125mm, on paper mounted on thick card, with thin ruled borders in black ink and titled in pencil below, thick brown paper interleaves, mounted on guards throughout. (Very light unobtrusive spotting to a few watercolours only.) Contemporary blue morocco gilt by J. Mackenzie, covers elaborately tooled with stylised borders and panel of fillets and scrolling foliage, with later centrally placed Botfield arms, gilt edges (faded, extremities lightly rubbed).
A FINE SERIES OF ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR DRAWINGS BY SAMUEL HOWITT, forming the preparatory studies for the engravings used by Howitt in his book, British Preserve, published by Rodmell and Martin in 1824 and reissued in 1829. In the published work, which Howitt both drew and etched, the plates match the dimensions of these original drawings, but were assembled in a different order. Curiously only 11 of the images have been reversed, but both the drawings and engravings are very similar in character. Almost all are identical in composition, with only minor variations appearing in three of the plates ('Wild Swan', 'Wigeon and Pochard' and 'Curlew'). The album contains two versions of the 'Red Legged Partridge', of which only one was used in engraved form. No preparatory drawing is present for the engraving of the 'Stag'. Samuel Howitt, known for his oils and watercolours of sporting, topographical and animal subjects, is closely associated with the figure of Thomas Rowlandson, his brother-in-law, who had a direct influence on Howitt's style and technique early on. The similarity in the appearance of their works, which is best exemplified in the Longleat collection of watercolour drawings by Rowlandson and Howitt and their circle (lots 501-578), is evident here in the treatment of landscape, sky and foliage. Howitt later went on to develop his own distinct style, focusing increasingly on animal subjects which he studied from life at the Menagerie in the Tower of London. His detailed drawings of animals and birds in this album are fine examples of his work, which Howitt himself transferred into highly-detailed and finely-executed engravings.