L'HÉRITIER DE BRUTELLE, CHARLES-LOUIS. Cornus. Specimen Botanicum sistens descriptiones et icones specierum Corni minus cognitarum. 1788 [-1789]. [Bound with:] Sertum anglicum, seu Plantae Rariores quae in hortis juxta Londinum, imprimis in horto regio Kewensi excoluntur, ab anno 1786 ad annum 1787 obervatae. 1788 [-1792]. [And with:] Geraniologia, seu erodii, pelargonii, geranii, monsoniae et grieli historia iconibus illustrata, 1787-1788 [-1792], all Paris: Pierre-François Didot.
3 vols. in one, folio, 483 x 325 mm., contemporary speckled calf, covers panelled with outer border of Greek key tool, lyre tools at corners, smooth spine gilt in compartments, black calf lettering-pieces, g.e., slightly rubbed, a few small scrapes or chips, corners bumped, dampstaining to upper margins of most plates, and to lower margins at end, last 2 plates slightly wrinkled.
FIRST EDITIONS. Cornus: 6 engraved plates, 3 after Pierre-Joseph Redouté, 3 after Louis Fréret. Sertum anglicum: 35 engraved plates, 9 folding, after Redouté (22), James Sowerby (10), J. G. Bruguière, and Pernotin. Geraniologia: 44 engraved plates, 33 after Redouté, 6 after Sowerby, the remainder after various artists.
THREE OF THE FOUR GREAT L'HERITIER FOLIOS, WITH PLATES AFTER REDOUTE. In the early 1780's L'Héritier de Brutelle, a wealthy French nobleman and botanist (and a "die-hard Linnaean"--Blunt & Stearn), made the acquaintance of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, then in his early twenties, and immediately recognized that the young painter's great talents were particularly suited for botanical representation. L'Héritier thus became one of Redouté's most ardent supporters and patrons, giving him the run of his splendid library and collection of specimens and instructing him in plant anatomy and the techniques of botanical dissection. The Cornus, "a magnificent eighteenth-century monograph on the Dogwoods, with three fine plates by Redouté and three good ones by Fréret" (Hunt) was the first of L'Héritier's collaborative efforts with Redouté. In 1786, L'Héritier visited England, where Redouté joined him. The Sertum anglicum or "English garland", a description of the rare exotics growing at Kew Garden, was offered by L'Heritier to Sir Joseph Banks and his other English friends, in gratitude for their help and hospitality during his visit. Thirty-seven of the plates contain the first known illustrations of their respective species; these include a number of South African plants, some collected by Francis Masson. "In his correspondence L'Heritier says several times... that 350 copies were made, of which fifty were on so-called papier velin, the others on ordinary rag paper.. it remains doubtful whether [as many as] 350 copies were struck off"(Stafleu, preface to the 1963 facsimile edition, quoted in the Plesch catalogue, lot 453). The Geraniologia contains some of Redouté's best early work (L'Héritier's text was never finished and of the portion that he had written only a very few copies were printed [cf. Stafleu]). "Several of the drawings used in this work were made during L'Héritier's stay in London. If regularly published, it would have been a fitting pendant to the Sertum anglicum" (Stafleu & Cowan).
Cornus: Hunt 698; MacPhail 2; Nissen BBI 1187; Pritzel 5269; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 4492.
Sertum anglicum: Hunt 692 (incomplete); MacPhail 3; Nissen BBI 1189; Pritzel 5270; TL2 4493.
Geraniologia: Great Flower Books, p. 65; MacPhail 25; Nissen BBI 1188; Pritzel 5267; TL2 4494.
Provenance: Armorial bookplate -- Norman Douglas Simpson, bookplate -- Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 27 April 1987, lot 214, miscatalogued, omitting mention of the Geraniologia).