TRAVIES, Edouard (1809-1865). [Les Oiseaux Les Plus Remarkables Par Leurs Formes et Leurs Couleurs. Scenes variees de leurs moeurs & de leurs habitudes.] [Paris: Ledot aine (or Berrieux) and London: E. Gambert & Co. (or Victor Delarue), ca. 1857].
Folio (21 6/8 x 14 4/8 inches). 58 (of 79) fine consecutively numbered hand-colored lithographic plates by Travies (early plates a bit spotted, last plate with longish closed tear affecting the image). Contemporary full blue morocco, gilt, all edges gilt (rebacked to style).
Provenance: with the modern armorial bookplate of Madelaine Jay on the front paste-down.
"...simply wonderful... among the best portraits of birds ever painted" (Wood)
First edition of this beautiful work by "one of the finest painters at work in the first half of the 19th century" (Jackson). The plates were originally issued in serial form, without title or text, and traditionally this work calls for 79 plates, but it has been thought that plates 60 and 79 were never published.
Travies' artistry represents a pinnacle in French ornithological illustration. Natural history, as a descriptive pursuit bent on identifying new species, demanded detailed illustrations. The minute precision of Traviès' work places him with the best of France's scientific artists. Traviès was born in Doullens, in the Somme district of France, in March 1809, the younger brother of the caricaturist Charles Joseph Traviès de Villier (1804-1859). Throughout his career he concentrated on natural history subjects, both in watercolor (he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon between 1831 and 1866) and lithography. Unlike a number of his contemporaries, he was an artist both with the brush and on stone. The majority of the illustrations show species of birds native to Europe, but some plates are birds native to America, Africa, Australia, Asia and the Pacific region. All show the birds in association with flowering plants indigenous to their habitats, such as orchids, passion flowers and varieties of eucalyptus. Traviès' original watercolors were reproduced as both engravings and lithographs, which are considered among the best portraits of birds ever painted. The artist rendered the backgrounds fully, incorporating foliage, flowers, butterflies, as well as the birds themselves, all with considerable charm. "Fine Bird Books", p. 147; Nissen IVB 946; Wood 601. Catalogued by Kate Hunter