“A most magnificent production,
by far the most important ornithological work on Africa
published up to this period” (Mendelssohn).
The Oiseaux d’Afrique by Levaillant,
decorated with 300 superb engraved copper-plates,
printed in color and enhanced by hand.
Levaillant, François. Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique.
Paris, J. J. Fuchs[puis] Delachaussée, An VII (1799) – 1808.
6 volumes 4to [332 x 251 mm], dark blue long-grained morocco, blind-stamped and gilt roll-stamp around the covers, ribbed spine with gilt fillets and motifs, inner gilt roll-stamp, marbled edges. Contemporary English binding.
First edition of the most important work published until then on the history of the birds of Africa, decorated with 300 engraved copper-plates, printed in color and enhanced by hand. Nissen, IV, 555 ; Anker, 298 ; Brunet, III, 1034.
It contains 300 superbs figures in full page of African birds, 5 of which are on a double page, and drawn by Johann Lebrecht Reinold under the supervision of Bouquet, engraved in copper, printed in color and enhanced by hand.
“A most magnificent production, by far the most important ornithological work on Africa published up to this period.” (Mendelssohn)
Written for the “true founder of research on African ornithology” (Anker), this book presents all of “the rare and previously undescribed species [that he] found in the different cabinets of Europe” (E. Bégin) or observed in their natural habitat.
“His ornithological research puts him at the highest level of the men who dedicated themselves to the fulfillment of this interesting branch of natural sciences.” (E. Bégin)
Explorer, collector and ornithologist, François Levaillant (1753-1824) becomes at a young age very interested in travel and has a profound interest for the mysteries of nature, the fauna and the flora. In 1780, he goes to the Netherlands where he meets Jacob Temminck, at the time treasurer of the East India Dutch company. Impressed by the young man, Temminck sends him to the province of The Cape, in South Africa, in 1781. There, he collects specimens from the region and makes two trips, one to the East of The Cape and one to the north of the river Orange in the Great Namaqualand.
The ornithological observations he makes during these trips allow him to publish a superbly illustrated Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d’Afrique, that had a resounding success.
“François Levaillant writes books that surprise by their magnificence and the quality of their plates […] where the illustrations, printed in color before being finely amended by hand, give the illusion of depths and life.” (Michel Schlup, Grands livres d’oiseaux illustrés de la Renaissance au XIXème siècle)
This very rare book was missing to the prestigious ornithological collection Henry Bradley Martin.
A superb copy, complete with its 300 beautiful full page copper engravings, printed in color and enhanced by hand, and preserved in its attractive contemporary dark blue morocco binding.