Joseph Descaine (1807-1882)
Le Jardin Fruitier du Musum ou iconographie de toutes les espces et varits d'arbres fruitiers. Paris: Firmin Didot frres, [1858-]1862-1875. 9 volumes, small 2 (307 x 218mm.) Half-titles. 508 plates after Alfred Riocreux, comprising 1 uncoloured engraved plate, 507 lithographs including 474 printed in colours and finished by hand, 4 of these double-page, most with tissue guards. (Occasional light oxidisation to hand-colouring.) Modern red half morocco by Helmuth Halbach, spines in six compartments with raised bands, black morocco lettering-piece in the second small onlaid oval of black morocco in the fourth bearing the volume number, the others with a repeat tooling of a large rose-spray tool. Provenance: Biblioteca Institutului botanic, Universitatea din Cluj, Rumania (ink stamp on titles); Egytemi Rendszeres Nvnytani Intzet Knyvtra Kolozsvr (ink stamp on verso of titles).
A FINE COPY OF ONE OF THE GREATEST OF ALL POMOLOGIES, with life-size plates by the 'most sensitive and skilful French botanical artist of the period...the Paris counterpart of Walter Hood Fitch' (Blunt). The author, a Belgian who had been appointed to the Natural History Museum of Paris in 1850, set out to describe all the species and varieties of fruit growing in the museum's garden. The work is presented in sections each covering a single species of fruit. The first (and largest) section is on the Pear, or what the author calls the 'roi des fruits pepins'. This section, spread over the first six volumes, includes 357 plates, 322 of which are coloured. The remaining sections are, in vol.VII, Peaches (74 plates); in vol.III: Nectarines (13 plates); Plums (12 plates); Apricots (1 plate); and in vol.IX: Strawberries (40 plates, four of which are double-page) and Currents and Gooseberries (11 plates). 440 of the plates illustrate varieties with their fruit and portions of the foliage in colour, each accompanied by at least 2pp. of descriptive text. The artist, Alfred Riocreux (1820-1912) 'was born at Svres, near Paris, where his father, who had been formerly employed in the state porcelain factory, was curator of the Muse de Cramique. Trained by his father, the boy progressed so rapidly with drawing and painting that the sketches which he made at the age of thirteen were considered worth preserving at Svres. The botanist Adolphe Thodore Brongniart (1801-76), whose father had also been employed at Svres, directed the attention of the young Riocreux to botany and was probably also responsible for bringing him to the Musum d'Histoire Naturelle. Here the young artist met Joseph Descaine.' (Blunt The Art of Botanical Illustration  p.270). The plates show that Riocreux was well aware of the necessity of botanical accuracy, as well as having an instinctive grasp of what constitutes a beautiful design. BM (NH) 1517; Great Flower Books (1990) p.89; Nissen BBI 546; Stafleu & Cowan 1338. (9)