RENARD, Louis (1678/9-1746). Poissons Ecrevisses et Crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires, que l'on trouve autour des Isles Moluques, et sur les côtes des Terres Australes... Divisé en deux tomes, dont le premier a été copié sur les originaux de Monsr. Baltazar Coyett... Le second tome a été formé sur les recueils de Monsr. Adrien Vander Stell. Amsterdam: Chez Reinier & Josué Ottens, 1754.
2 volumes in one, 2° (400 x 260mm). Two half-titles, title printed in red and black, 2pp. dedication to George I, 4pp. 'Preface', 2pp. 'Declaration sur cet ouvrage', 4pp. 'Table Alphabetique'. 100 hand-coloured engraved plates after Samuel Fallours and others, one double-page, each showing two or more subjects. (Lacking the 2pp. 'Avertissement de l'Editeur' as often, double-page plate at back of vol.II with 100mm. split at fold, six plates slightly browned or browned, half-title to vol.II spotted.) Contemporary speckled calf, covers with double-fillet border, spine in seven compartments with raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, the others with repeat decoration in gilt composed from various small tools around a central stylised flower spray, g.e. (joints split, spine chipped, corners bumped).
A FINE COPY OF THE SECOND EDITION OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY AND BEAUTIFUL WORK on the larger aquatic animals found in the East Indies. The edition was limited to about 100 copies. The very rare first edition was published by Renard himself in 1719. For the second edition 'it seems that the publishing firm of Ottens took the thirty (or thirty-six) unbound copies purchased from Renard's estate, had the plates colored, replaced Renard's old undated title page and added a "Préface" provided by Aerout Vosmaer and the "Déclaration sur cet ouvrage" of Renard. These then, together with some seventy additional copies newly printed from the original coppers... constitute the second edition.' (Pietsch I, pp.23-24). Pietsch was able to locate 34 copies of this second edition and examine 22 of them - of these 22 copies seven were without the 'Avertissement de l'Editeur' leaf.
The plates are based on two collections of drawings. The drawings for the first volume were commissioned by Balthasar Coyett (1650-1725), who served in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from 1681, spending most of his career in the Far East. His last two postings were as governor of the Banda islands (1694-1701) and of Ambon in the Malay archipelago (1701-1706). Renard notes in his 'Advertisement de l'Editeur' (not present in the present copy) that during the term of his governorship Coyett "encouragea la Pêche de ces Poissons... & après en avoir fait peindre environ deux-cens, qui avoient été portez en vie dans sa Maison, tant par les Indiens d'Amboine & des Isles voisines, que par les Hollandois qui y sont établis, il en forma deux Receuils, dont Monsieur son Fils [Frederik Julius Coyett] aporta les Originaux [in 1707 or 1708] à Monsieur Scott l'aîné... Je les ai fait exactement copier".
Samuel Fallours (fl. 1703-1720) is named as the artist of the illustrations in the second volume, and he was also responsible for a number of those in the first. He began his career as a soldier in the service of the VOC, first arriving in the Far East in December 1703. His artistic gifts were quickly recognised and he was employed by several officials of the VOC, including Coyett, from 1703 until his retirement in 1706. The second volume is made up from drawings executed by Fallours for Coyett's replacement, Adriaen van der Stel (c.1665-1720).
Renard never visited the East Indies and was completely reliant on information supplied by Fallours and other returning travellers, and, clearly worried by brilliant colours, fantastic shapes and habits of his subjects, felt it necessary to include affidavits from various eye-witnesses testifying to the accuracy of the depictions. Despite these declarations, his work was dismissed at the time as being largely fantasy. However, writing over one hundred years later, Bleeker remarked that 'Although these figures are partly exaggerated and partly unrecognizable, it later proved that practically every one of them is based on a natural object'. Landwehr 159; Nissen ZBI 3361; cf. Nissen Schöne Fischbücher 103; T.W. Pietsch Fishes, Crayfishes, and Crabs, Louis Renard's Natural History of the Rarest Curiosities of the Seas of the Indies, Baltimore: 1995. (2)