ILLUSTRATED WITH TWO VOLUMES OF OVER 700 FINELY ENGRAVED AND BEAUTIFULLY HAND-COLORED PLATES: DICTIONNAIRE PITTORESQUE D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE, 1833-39
GUERIN, Félix-Edouard, editor. Dictionnaire Pittoresque d'Histoire Naturelle et des Phénomènes de la Nature [Picturesque Dictionary Of Natural History and Natural Phenomena]… Paris: Au Bureau de Souscription, 1833-39. Eleven volumes bound as seven. Thick quarto, contemporary half green morocco gilt, marbled boards and endpapers. $4800.
First edition of this impressive early 19th-century natural history encyclopedia, complete with all 720 steel-engraved plates, virtually all of which are hand-colored, depicting in stunning detail a comprehensive range of life, handsomely bound in seven volumes (five of text, two of plates).
Especially remembered for his work as an entomologist and as the author of the illustrated work Iconographie du Règne Animal de G. Cuvier (1844), Guérin (who changed his name to Guérin-Méneville in 1836) also established several zoological journals and edited this massive natural history enyclopedia. Following nine volumes of text written by some of the day's leading French naturalists (here bound as seven), two volumes of 720 finely engraved plates depict an impressive range of living creatures. From humble earthworms and common insects to such imposing beasts as the elephant and the hippopoatmus, from all manner of birds and fish to men and women (including several plates illustrating medical abnormalities), as well as a wide range of lovely flora, the plates present their varied subjects in intricate detail. The vast majority of the plates are beautifully hand-colored, with occasional bursts of especially vibrant hue in such details as the wings of a butterfly or the crest of a bird. Text volumes bound with half titles. Text in French. Brunet II:1786. Graesse III:171.
Plates clean with colors vivid, occasionally lightly embrowned. Marginal closed tear to plates 394; tape repairs to verso of plate 386. Text volumes with scattered light to mild foxing. Closed tears to pages 433-36, Volume 8, affecting text. Lower corner of front board of first plate volume expertly repaired. Mild rubbing to boards. Spine gilt bright. An excellent copy of a scarce and striking production.