JUSSIEU, Antoine Laurent de (1748-1836). Genera plantarum secundum ordines naturales disposita. Paris: Veuve Hrissant and Thophile Barrois, 1789.
8o (195 x 117 mm). Errata leaf at end, woodcut title ornament and tailpieces. INTERLEAVED WITH 76 SHEETS OF BOTANICAL PENCIL AND INK DRAWINGS BY GEORGES CUVIER. (Occasional light spotting, some offsetting from inserted drawings to text, small hole to Bb4 affecting 4 letters, few minor marginal tears.) Inserted lithographed portrait of Jussieu by E. Quenedey. Contemporary French sheep-backed boards, smooth spine gilt in compartments, edges red-stained (rebacked preserving original backstrip, edges slightly rubbed); morocco-backed folding case.
Provenance: GEORGES CUVIER (1769-1832), zoologist, comparative anatomist (signature on title, interleaved botanical sketches [see below], a few marginal notes); Sylvestre Franois Lacroix (1765-1843), mathematician (unsigned pencil note on front free endpaper stating that this copy, containing drawings by Cuvier, was given to him by Cuvier in exchange for a presentation copy of the same work, with an autograph letter signed [one page, written on the upper half of an octavo sheet] to his fellow mathematician Sophie Germain [1776-1831], dated Paris, 5 April 1830, tipped in to front flyleaf, thanking her warmly for her gift of a copy of the offprint of her Mmoire sur la courbure des surfaces [Paris 1830]); list of page numbers of inserted leaves of drawings in an unidentified 19th-century hand, noting a total of 1127 drawings, in red ink and pencil on verso of Lacroix letter, a few underscorings in the same red ink.
EXCEPTIONAL ASSOCIATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF A FUNDAMENTAL WORK OF MODERN BOTANY, INSCRIBED BY CUVIER AND CONTAINING OVER 1000 FINE BOTANICAL DRAWINGS IN HIS HAND ILLUSTRATING IN DETAIL MANY OF THE PLANT FAMILIES DESCRIBED BY JUSSIEU. Jussieu studied at the Facult de Mdicine in Paris, where his thesis subject was the comparative physiology of animals and plants, before he succeeded his uncle Bernard de Jussieu as professor of botany at the Jardin du Roi. He devoted 15 years to the elaboration of a new system of botanical classification, which he developed from the work of his uncle Bernard, who had arranged the garden at the Trianon according to an unprecedented system of "natural" classification. Building upon the earlier achievements of Linnaeus, but rejecting Linnaeus' artificial sexual classification system, the Genera plantarum lay the groundwork for modern botanical classification. For preparation of the work, Jussieu "had at his disposal not only the rich collections of living plants at the royal garden, but also his uncle's and his own rich herbarium, as well as the collections made by Philibert Commerson on his world voyage with Bougainville; the Commerson collections proved to be of critical improtance for the inclusion of many tropical angiosperm families. Through an exchange of specimens, Jussieu also had part of Joseph Banks's collections from Cook's first voyage [and other collections of new plant species including Michel Adanson's shipments from Sngal]... The Genera plantarum... presented a thorough summary of current knowledge of plant taxonomy. The genera were arranged in a natural system based upon the correlation of a great number of characteristics, a system that proved to be so well designed that within a few decades it was accepted by all leading European botanists... Jussieu's arrangement of families is among those elements of the Genera plantarum that remain a part of the contemporary system of classification" (DSB).
Cuvier's inserted botanical drawings consist primarily of small pencil sketches or finished drawings of plant parts. Many of the 76 inserted leaves, which range from full octavo-sized leaves to small portions of leaves, are illustrated on both rectos and versos, bringing the total page count to 105, containing over 1000 drawings. Four pages contain approximately 60 highly finished drawings in ink; the remaining drawings are all in pencil. The drawings or groups of related drawings bear neat captions in ink, and a few (facing pages 146, 147, 234 and 311) are accompanied by longer Latin botanical descriptions in Cuvier's hand. One sheet (inserted opposite p. 24) contains two full-page pencil drawings of the flowering portion of the arum plant, and is folded to fit within the volume. The remaining drawings are all small in size. Cuvier's marginal notes or corrections in ink or pencil are found on pages 29, 30, 182, 184, 333, 355, 427 and 441.
Cuvier was a gifted draughtsman; as a lecturer he was known for the facility and speed with which he could produce lifelike blackboard sketches, "as clear as they were accurate" (DSB), to illustrate his expositions. His considerable contributions to comparative anatomy and zoology paralleled Jussieu's achievements in the field of botany, in that they were largely concerned wtih classification and taxonomy. Cuvier's interest in plants was longstanding: "as early as his second year at the university [the Hohen Karlsschule, close to Stuttgart], Cuvier had discovered near Stuttgart some plants that were new to the region" (DSB). Jussieu's work would naturally have interested him greatly, and the exchange of the present copy for Jussieu's own, possibly annotated, copy of the work, recorded in this copy by S. F. Lacroix, his colleague at the Institut de France and College de France, is quite plausible.
Grolier/Horblit 68b; Hunt 703; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 589; Wellcome III, p. 374; Norman 1194.