LEVAILLANT, François (1753-1824). Histoire naturelle d'une partie d'oiseaux nouveau et rare de l'Amerique et des Indes. Paris and Amsterdam: Didot jeune for J.E.Gabriel Dufour, 1801[-1802].
Volume I (all published), 2° (500 x 312mm). Half-title. 49 FINE ENGRAVED PLATES IN 2 STATES, printed in colours and finished by hand and uncoloured, printed by Langlois. (A few plates creased, occasionally light spotting.) Contemporary French red half morocco, spine gilt. Provenance: Pavlovski palace, St.Petersburg (book label and small discreet blindstamp on title and final text leaf); MARCEL JEANSON (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. A VERY FINE COPY OF THE FOLIO ISSUE WITH THE PLATES IN TWO STATES. The work was originally published in 8 livraisons, and was available in three states: folio, with both uncoloured and coloured plates; quarto, with coloured plates; and quarto, with uncoloured plates. The present copy is from the first and most desirable issue. The fine plates are of birds - Bucerotidae and Contingidae - which, as the title makes clear, were 'destiné par l'Auteur à faire partie de son Ornithologie d'Afrique'. 'These plates were printed by Langlois, who did almost all of the printing for Levaillant... French colour-printing of this period... has never been surpassed' (Fine Bird Books). Strangely, although the printer's name is given on the plates, for personal, professional or political reasons no mention is made of the artist(s) who produced the original drawings. The artists for Levaillant's other works were J.Lebrecht Reinold, Jacques Barraband and Auguste Pelletier. The first of these is perhaps the most obvious candidate for the present work, given that the author considered it as a supplement to his Oiseaux d'Afrique, which contained plates after Reinold. Zimmer p.392; Anker 301; Fine Bird Books p.90; Nissen IVB 557.