KERNER, Johann Simon (1755-1830). Le Raisin ses espèces et variétées, dessinées et coloriées d'après nature. Stuttgart; chez l'auteur, 1803-1815.
12 livraisons in 2 volumes, large 2° (560 x 440mm). 12 letterpress titles, each with an original watercolour vignette, the first livraison with an allegorical design, others with bunches of grapes and exotic butterflies, 144 ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS OF GRAPES, heightened with gum arabic, each titled in manuscript at foot, interleaved (Some light spotting to a few text leaves and several watercolours, but mostly marginal end papers browned). Contemporary green morocco, gilt by J.Wright, covers with broad ruled borders and inner design of elaborate vine roll and butterfly tools, spine in six compartments, lettered and tooled in gilt with vine and grape motifs, broad gilt tun-ins, gilt edges.
ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICANT PUBLICATIONS ON THE GRAPE probably one of only two complete copies drawn up. Kerner was a German botanist working at Wurttemberg Carl's Universitat in Stuttgart. In his early career he published a series of academic books on trees and the economic plants. Around 1795 he embarked on a truly ambitious project; the Hortus sempervirens described by Brunet "Le livre est un des plus magnifiques qui existe", which by his death had grown to 71 elephant folio sized volumes with 851 watercolours. There appears to have been only one set which was broken up in the 19th century. Parts have appeared at auction (the last at Harting in German in 1987 when parts 52-55 with 38 watercolours fetched DM 48,000) and several parts are to be found in the Lindley library. Kerner also issued the present work on grapes, emphasising in his introduction the economic uses of the grape in the rural economy. Brunet III 655 describes what is certainly this copy "Il en existe maintenant au moins 12 cah. contenant ensemble 144 dessins color., et portés à 84 liv. dans le catalogue de Payne et Foss, pour 1830, no1697". The Payne and Foss copy had been bound in half russia and the catalogue notes "of this splendid work very few copies exist in consequence of the great expence of executing the Drawings, which rival in excellence the accurate pencil of Van Huysum". Various livraison for a second broken copy can be identified; parts 1-5 in the Library of Congress (Dunthorne) and three other parts in the Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural society, London (Kerner was one of the first foreign members of the society). A third work on Melons was published in 1810 with 34 watercolours, Dunthorne could find no copy and Brunet mentions that 'Tous les ouvrages de Kerner sont très rares en France.'
Dunthorne p.212; Nissen BBI 1045; not in Stafleu and Cowan.