René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849)
Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux-Mouches. [1829-30]; Histoire Naturelle des Colibris suivi d'un supplement à l'Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux-Mouches. [1830-1832]; Les Trochilidées ou les Colibris et les Oiseaux-Mouches, suivi d'un Index général. Paris: Imprimerie de Rignoux for Arthus Bertrand, [1832-1833]; all 3 works in 3 volumes, 8° (241 x 156mm). All works with letterpress titles and half titles, second work with 'Garde' leaf bound in before half title, the second and third works with sectional titles. First work: 86 hand-coloured etched and engraved plates, heightened with gum arabic, by Jean Louis Denis Coutant after Antoine Germaine Bévalet, Zoë Dumont, Marie Clémence Lesson, Jean Gabriel Prêtre, and Antoine Charles Vauthier. Second work: 66 hand-coloured etched and engraved plates heightened with gum arabic by Coutant and Teillard, after Bévalet and Prêtre. Third work: 66 hand-coloured etched and engraved plates by Oudet after Prêtre and Bévalet. (Some scattered spotting and browning to text and plates.) Uniformly bound in 19th-century dark blue half morocco, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second compartment, top edge gilt (extremities lightly rubbed).
A FINE SET OF LESSON'S MAJOR WORKS ON HUMMING BIRDS, WITH MANUSCRIPT NOTES AT FRONT OF THE FIRST AND THIRD WORK 'UN DE 25 EXEMPLAIRE SUR GRAND PAPIER VèLIN'. Lesson was educated at the naval medical school at Rochefort, and joined the French navy in 1811. In 1822 he was appointed to the company of the expeditionary ship Coquille, serving as medical officer and naturalist with P. Garnot, under the command of the natural historian J.-S.-C. Dumont d'Urville. Garnot resigned in 1824 due to ill-health, leaving the natural history work to be shared between Lesson and Dumont d'Urville. The fieldwork that Lesson performed during the Coquille's 2½-year circumnavigation formed the basis both for the present series of works and also for his subsequent fame as a natural historian. Brunet notes that all three works were issued in various forms: regular issue in 17 parts, large 8°, at 5 francs per part; 25 examples on 'Pap.[ier] grand-raisin ...10 francs per part; 12 examples with 'les doubles fig.[ures] en noir, tirés sur papier de Chine' at 15 francs per part; and finally 5 examples with 'double texte, dont un impr.[ession] sur pap.[ier] de couleur, et 3 suites de fig.[ures]' at 20 francs per part. The text in the second work is here printed on laid paper, rather than the wove paper of the first and third works, and all three works do have wide margins to the text. Anker 291, 293-294; BM(NH) III, p.1096; Brunet III, col.1017; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.117; Nissen IVB 547-549; Ronsil 1774; Wood p.433; Zimmer pp.386-389. (3)