Paris, chez l’auteur, 1774.
8 folio volumes [485 x 360 mm] of: I/ (2) ll. including a title-page in color and an introduction to botany, 3 numbered plates in color out of pagiantion, 1 second title-p. handwritten in black ink, 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p. A total of 63 pl. in color for part 1. II/ (1) flying colored title folded, (1) handwritten title l., 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p.; III/ (1) handwritten title l., 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p.; IV/ (1) handwritten title l., 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p.; V/ (2) ll. including 1 title-p. in color and another title-p. handwritten in black ink, 55 plates in color, 55 pp., (1) handwritten table p., (1) table l.; VI/ (2) ll. including 1 title-p. handwritten in black ink and 1 title-p. in color, 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p.; VII/ (1) title-p. in color, 60 plates in color, 60 pp., (1) handwritten table p.; VIII/ (2) ll including one title-page in color and a notice to the reader, 54 plates in color, 54 pp., (1) handwritten table p., (1) table p., 12 pp. with list of diseases. A total of 6 titles in color and 472 full-page plates in color.
Bound in full green vellum, small labels in the center of the front overs bearing the numbers of the volumes handwritten in ink, spines ribbed, red morocco lettering pieces, red edges. A few restorations. Contemporary binding.
First edition of one of the most beautiful books on botany from the 18th century, illustrated with 472 full-page plates hand-colored by Nicolas-François Regnault (1746-c.1810) and Genevieve de Nangis Regnault.
Blunt & Stearn, p.171; Johnston 517; Dunthorne 256; Great Flower Books (1990), p.131; Nissen BBI 1600; Pritzel 7475; Stafleu & Cowan 8810; Soultrait, 18th century, 118.
Blunt wrote about this book: “Perhaps the most impressive French botanical book of the period is Francois Regnault’s La Botanique with nearly five hundred hand-coloured etchings. Many of these plates are the work of Genevieve de Nangis Regnault. The book deals with useful and decorative plants, and the author engagingly described the potato ‘as possibly the only good thing that ever came out of America’”.
Painter, draftsman, and engraver, Nicolas-François Regnault composed La Botanique with the help of his wife, Genevieve, who drew, engraved and colored the vast majority of the plates.
“Mrs Regnault poses the colors with delicacy as evidenced by the plates dedicated to flowers with subtle hues such as the honeysuckle, which also adorns the garland of the title page, or the oleander”.
(Pinault Sorensen, Le Livre de botanique, 2008, p.70).
In addition to the list of medicinal plants, the book also lists plants meant for gastronomy or the practice of the arts. This huge work required 12 years of work for the couple to complete the work. The aim of its authors was to produce a practical treatise of botany, hence the inclusion of a “List of diseases” explaining how each plant should be used against each disease, whether it is the migraine, insomnia, vertigo, apoplexy or even drunkenness.
Superb very wide-margined copy of this magnificent work of natural sciences, complete with its 472 watercolored engravings, preserved in its uniform contemporary green vellum binding.