AUDEBERT, Jean Baptiste (1759-1800) and Louis Jean Pierre VIEILLOT (1748-1831). Oiseaux dores ou a reflets metalliques. Paris: Imprimerie Crapelet for Desray, [?1800]-1802.
2 volumes. Folio (20 3/8 x 13 2/8 inches). Half-titles and sectional titles, list of subscribers. 190 fine etched plates printed in colour by Langlois, finished by hand, and HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, including one double-page and 26 bis of the "Grimperaux", all with CAPTIONS PRINTED IN GOLD (lightly spotted throughout). Contemporary diced russia, the smooths spines decorated in compartments with fine gilt tools, by Henry Walther, with his customary binder's ticket "Bound by H. Walther" on the verso of the front free endpaper of volume one, all edges gilt (front cover of first volume detached).
Provenance: with neat contemporary shelf marks on the versos of the front free endpapers.
First edition, limited issue, one of 200 folio sets with the plate captions printed in gold of a total edition of 313, which included 200 quarto sets, 12 folio sets with the plate captions and the text printed in gold, and one set printed in gold on vellum. The work was issued in 32 parts over 26 months and is divided into 10 sections. Illustrating the extraordinary beauty of the most spectacular species of hummingbirds, jacamars and birds of paradise.
Anker says of the magnificent plates, which are heightened with gold, that the 'colours of the birds and their handsome appearance have evidently been the cause of their selection for inclusion in the book. The plates with the bird portraits are in beautiful colours; in this respect they are among the best colour prints found in ornithology'.
The plates were etched by Audebert from his own designs and those of 'les plus belles peintres de Paris et de Londres'; Louis Bouquet assisted with the colouring and Langlois with the printing in oil-colours, and the whole process used in the printing of the plates was invented by Audebert. All the colours were printed from a single plate, and oil paint was substituted for the more common gouache. Originally a miniature painter, Audubert became interested in natural history after meeting Gigot-d'Orex in 1789, a wealthy collector of specimens, who employed him to paint some of them. Tragically Audebert died at the young age of 41, and this is the last book he completed before his death. The text is largely by Vieillot who continued the work using Audebert's notes after the latter's death in 1800. Anker 14; Fine Bird Books p.73; Nissen IVB 47; Ronsil 103; Wood pp. 206-207; Zimmer pp. 17-18.