JOHANN GUSTAV HOCH (1716-1779)
CONCHOLOGY -- An Album of 521 finely rendered watercolour drawings of seashells, crustacea, starfish, sea urchins and 3 specimens of seaweed, on 85 leaves, with manuscript numbering and identification in ink at the top of each leaf. 2 Two-page manuscript introductory text, signed and dated by Hoch. [Mainz: 4 December 1771]. 2 (467 x 323mm). Modern dark blue morocco by Devauchelle, the flat spine lettered and dated in gilt and palladium, the covers with large inset panel outlined with a thin grey morocco band, the panels with multi-coloured calf and morocco on-lays forming a semi-abstract design of interlocking starfish, scallop and gastrapod outlined in palladium and with multi-coloured calf and morocco on-lays, olive and blue suede doublures, gilt edges, blue morocco-backed and edged chemise and slipcase.
A FINE COLLECTION OF DRAWINGS OF SEASHELLS AND MOLLUSCS by an artist of the highest calibre. The album represents the final flowering of the "cabinet of curiosities" approach to conchology, just before the introduction of scientific classification by Baron Cuvier. J.G. Hoch, born at Reutlingen in 1716, was primarily a painter of portraits, landscapes and historical scenes. A student of Leibold, he had travelled extensively in Europe before establishing himself at Mainz. In his manuscript preface to the present drawings, Hoch acknowledges the contemporary interest in collections of shells and their publication in copper-plate engravings, but specifies that his intention is to do justice to their variety of colour, a facet which has been ill-served by engraving. As an artist, Hoch was little concerned with the morphology of molluscs, but he does arrange his drawings by type, such as Volutae, Cochleae, Porcelanae, Bivalviae, and Stellae Marinae. In this, he is following earlier classifiers of mollusces, such as Jacob Theodor Klein, who opposed any method based on characteristics not visible externally. Benezit cites the sale of these drawings (unbound) at Sotheby's 7 December 1967 when the signature was misread "Jakob" Hoch.