Paris, Hôtel de Thou, n.d. [towads 1790].
2 parts bound in 2 volumes 4to [257 x 197 mm.] of: I/ (8) pp., 226 plates; II/ (4) pp., pp. 9 to 16, 115 plates. Bound in fawn half-roan towards 1940, gilt ornamented ribbed spine, marbled edges.
A precious copy of this “rare separate suite of Buffon’s engravings of quadrupeds, classified by orders and races according to Linnaeus’s animal system.”
This collection is the natural complement of the 10 volumes of Birds by Martinet and Buffon but it is much rarer. Brunet I, 1379, Nissen I, 672.
The publication of the monumental Histoire naturelle by Buffon, started in 1749 and continued by Lacépède, lasted over 50 years. The success was immediate and Buffon explains in his correspondence that the first three volumes were sold out in six weeks. The following year, a small-format edition with reduced figures began to be published.
The great painter and illustrator Jacques de Sève is the author of almost all the plates of the Histoire naturelle. Most of his original drawings have disappeared, a collection of 152 drawings of animals was in Mirabeau’s library, sold in 1791.
The quality of these illustrations largely contributed to the popular success of the work. This separate publication of a selection of colored plates shows it. The quadrupeds are classified by orders and races according to Linnaeus’ animal system. Most of the plates are surrounded by a green watercolored frame.
This collection is very rare.
A very precious copy, a unique model that was used for the coloring. Many plates are retouched with ink and pen and watercolored, 64 remained in black, and 21 are missing or remained sketchy, with only the number or the name of the subject handwritten. Besides, the copy is enriched with 7 original pen-and-ink drawings (dogs), cut and pasted on the initial page. Each figure is numbered with a pen at the top.