TRAVIES, Edouard (1809-1865). Original Painting of a White-bellied Woodstar Hummingbird. Paris: 1842.
Single sheet, wove paper (13 x 9 inches), EXQUISITE PAINTING OF A WHITE-BELLIED WOODSTAR HUMMINGBIRD, Chaetocercus mulsant, perched on the yellow-flowering gold shower plant from Mexico (Galphimia glauca), original watercolour and gouache over graphite, heightened with gum arabic, inscribed in ink beneath the image "Galphimia mellis (Mexique) Troch. Mulsanti" [possibly in Edouard Travies' hand], and signed by the artist lower left "Edouard Travies pinxit. 1842. No. 25".
A superb painting of the White-bellied Woodstar Hummingbird, found in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru; perched upon a plant native in Mexico, Galphimia gracilis, long used as a mild sedative for the relief of allergies and asthma.
Edouard Travies (1809-1865), was the great illustrator of Hummingbirds included in his iconic 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. It is possible that this watercolour was intended for engraving for an edition of M.A.Richard's Oeuvres Completes de Buffon, Paris 1825-1828, 1834, 1838, 1845, 1848, and ca 1848-1850.
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. 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.