Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913) and Osbert Salvin (1835-1898)
Exotic Ornithology, containing figures and descriptions of the new or rare species of American Birds. London: G. Norman & Son for Bernard Quaritch, [October 1866 - November] 1869. 13 original parts in one volume, large 4° (343 x 269mm). Mounted on guards throughout. 100 hand-coloured lithographic plates by and after Joseph Smit, printed by M. & N. Hanhart. 20th-century red morocco gilt, panel with decorative cornerpieces on sides, spine in six compartments, lettered in the second and third, the others with repeat decoration in gilt made up from various small tools, gilt turn-ins, g.e., original paper upper wrapper bound in.
AN IMPORTANT WORK ON AMERICAN AVIFAUNA, AND A "MONUMENT OF ERUDITION, INDUSTRY, AND ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE" (Coues). The authors originally intended this work to "continue the well-known series of illustrations contained in the "Planches Enluminées" of Buffon and Daubenton, the "Planches Coloriées" of Temminck, and the "Iconographie Ornithologique" of Des Murs... As it progressed, however, the authors found it would be more convenient to restrict it to the birds of the Neotropical Region - that is America south of the United States. No other part of the world can vie with Tropical America in the richness of its Avifauna; and nowhere else have so many brilliant discoveries been recently made as in its various districts. Moreover, one of the authors [Sclater] is so fortunate as to have been the original explorer of the ornithology of a very interesting portion of this Region, and has thus been enabled to append to the accounts of the species met with in this area notes on their habits and local ditribution" (Preface).
Shortly after completing his first major commission, for Hermann Schlegel's De Vogels van Nederlandsch Indie (1863-1866), Smit left his native Holland for London at Sclater's invitation to work on the present work. Smit's urgent need to impress both his new employers and their countrymen with his artistry and industry is evident in every plate of the present work. As Christine Jackson writes, he did an excellent job with the "lovingly detailed birds" standing out "sharply against their backgrounds of trees, branches and leaves". With the publication of this work Smit's reputation was assured. Anker 450; Coues 2:286; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.139l; Jackson Lithography 76; Nissen IVB 844; Wood 558; Zimmer 560.