SMITH, Charles Hamilton (1776-1859). An album of original drawings and watercolours, titled on spine 'Original Drawings by Lt. Col. Hamilton Smith. Zoology. Elephants Rhinoceroses &c', [n.d., but drawings watermarked 1811-1852].
2° (410 x 325mm). 81 original drawings, 6 in pencil, 75 pencil with wash or watercolour, all by Smith after various original sources, the majority signed with initials 'CHS', all captioned, two with a note that they were taken 'from life'. Original dark purple morocco-backed marbled-paper covered boards with cloth corners, the flat spine divided into six compartments by pairs of gilt fillets, titled in gilt in the second and fourth compartments (spine and extremities scuffed).
A FINE ALBUM OF ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS AND DRAWINGS BY LIEUTENANT COLONEL HAMILTON SMITH: 'A GREAT NATURALIST AND AN UNWEARIED ARTIST' (William Prideaux Courtney writing in the DNB). Courtney continues 'Smith was a student of profound knowledge in many branches of learning' and notes that he 'began sketching before he was fifteen years old, and from that time was unwearied, whether he was voyaging down the coast of Africa or exploring the West Indies, in making drawings and in accumulating scientific data. History, zoology, and archaeology were his favourite subjects of research. He left behind him twenty thick volumes of manuscript notes and thousands of his own watercolour drawings.' Smith served in the British army from 1797 until retiring on half-pay in 1820. He travelled widely, visiting North and South America (one of the drawings in the present album is captioned 'life - Surinam') and the Near East, and was on friendly terms with a number of the great naturalists of the period including Sir Richard Owen and Baron Cuvier.
The present album includes 11 images of elephants, 18 of rhinoceros, 7 of tapirs, 9 of horses, 27 of members of the pig and peccary family, 4 of hyrax and 5 of hippos. The drawings seem to be a mixture of images copied from other drawings or prints, 3 are after William Daniel for instance, and drawings drawn from life or at least from preserved examples of the animals: the seventh drawing of an elephant for instance, is noted as having come from 'Exeter Change' - this is probably an original portrait of 'Chunee' the Indian elephant who, after a period as the leading attraction at the Exeter Change Menagerie, in the Strand, London, achieved an unprecedented degree of tragic posthumous fame when he was shot in 1826 after becoming 'violent'. Only 23 of the 81 drawings include any acknowledgment of their sources, but these include the Liverpool Zoological Gardens, Munich Museum, the Missionary Society, Paris Museum, Frankfurt Museum, Brussels Museum and the Callonne Museum in Leicester Square.