TUSSAC, FRANÇOIS RICHARD DE. Flore des Antilles, ou histoire générale botanique, rurale et economique des végétaux indigènes des Antilles. Paris: chez l'auteur, F. Schoell et Hautel, 1808-1827 [-1828].
4 vols., large folio, 508 x 323 mm., contemporary French red quarter morocco, later marbled paper over the pasteboards, spines in seven compartments, gilt-tooled and gilt lettered, gilt armorial in top compartment of the Palais de France, yellow edges, spines with wear, vol. 1 repaired; circular MHS ink stamp on each plate, vol. 1: blank gutter of plates and text 13 through 15 very slightly punctured, vol. 2: plates 12 and 18 spotted, vol. 3: plates 21, 25 and 26 cropped, some faint dampstaining at end of this volume; vol. 1: half-title torn and repaired, vol. 4: text leaves with sigs. 8-20 and final leaf (i.e. 27 leaves) browned as usual.
FIRST EDITION. Half-titles and titles in French in each volume, half-title and title also in Latin bound before the single-leaf dedication to Empress Josephine (1808) in vol. 1, dedication to Louis XVIII (1818) in vol. 2. 140 stipple-engraved plates printed in colors and finished by hand,by Bouquet, Dien, Gabriel, Massard and others after Dabnour, Poiteau, Prêtre, P.J. Redouté and Turpin (vol. 1 bis 25, vol. 3 bis 1; vol. 2 nos. 2, 4, 10 and 19 double-page).
ONE OF THE EARLIEST COLORED FLORAS OF THE WEST INDIES. According to Brunet: "Il n'a été tire que 150 exemplaires." The present copy appears to be complete without half-titles and titles in Latin for vols. 2-4. The Botfield copy (sold, Christie's London, 30 March 1994, lot 90) is categorically described as "large-paper" and measures 515 x 330 mm. This statement is possibly a perpetuation of the sale catalogue description of the uncut Plesch copy ("? large paper") which was re-described in the de Belder sale catalogue as "large paper" (capitalized); in neither case were measurements given. In our opinion there was no large-paper issue. Relatively little is known of Tussac's early life, but as a botanist he travelled around the West Indies visiting Santo Domingo and Martinique in 1786, Jamaica in 1802, returning to France at the end of that year. His long preface to this work gives a vivid account of his travels and many stirring adventures, as well as an account of the slave rebellionn of Toussaint-Louverture in Santo Domingo. The 2000 drawings that he had executed on Martinique were left to the flames in February 1802 as he fled from a burning and beseiged house clutching his manuscript. Luckily the herbaria was saved and became the basis for the completion of the book in France, often using plants by other botanical artists, such as Poiteau, Turpin, Prêtre, Redouté and Risso.
Provenance: Palais de Paris, crest on binding -- Massachusetts Horticultural Society, library stamps and bookplates (sale, Sotheby's New York, 1 October 1980, lot 169). (4)