Die Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen.
Eur 5,500 / USD 5,700
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Erlangen, W. Walther, 1777-1794 (-1830). 5 parts and supplements (bound in 10 volumes, including the 'Ausländische Schmetterlinge). 4to. (280 x 210mm). With 407 (of 441) beautifully handcoloured engraved plates (and:) IDEM. Die ausländische Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen. Erlangen, W. Walther, (1785-1801). 4to. With 50 (of 66) beautifully handcoloured engraved plates. Contemporary boards (text vols.) & contemporary marbled boards (atlas vols.) with red gilt lettered label.
With Esper a real scholar arrives on the scene
First edition of this beautiful lepidopterological classic together with the volume of the 'Ausländische Schmetterlinge'. Most of the text volumes are complete, however the supplements are lacking pages towards the end, as well as the text of the 'Die ausländische Schmetterlinge'. Sets of the first edition, are of utmost rarity. "With Esper a real scholar arrives on the scene, and while so far we have seen a constant rise in the artistic quality of illustration, we are now aware for the first time of the so-called scientific approach, which did so much damage to Europe's culture in the nineteenth century. Esper did not hesitate to show one wing of inherently beautiful butterflies as seen from above, and the other one as seen from below (Pfeiffer). Still, even Pfeiffer admits that this method offered new possibilities of comparative evaluation to the scholar, and Esper cannot be denied a strong artistic gift, which was greatly helped by the Nuremberg engraver Johann Carl Bock (fl. 1757-1806). During a stay in the Low Countries Bock was encouraged even more by artists of the school of Maria Sibylla Merian, who had formely worked in Nuremberg" (Nissen, Bestiaries pp. 71-72).
Its fine plates are exceptionally delicately handcoloured and engraved by Bock, Sturm, Tyroff, Volkart, Walbert, and others after Esper's own drawings. Eugen Johann Christoph Esper (1742-1810) was a German entomologist and phycologist, professor at Erlangen and director of the Natural History Museum. His other major works are 'Icones Fucorum' published from 1797-1808 and 'Die Pflanzthiere' published from 1788-1830. Most of the plates with Latin names added in a neat contemporary handwriting.
Nissen ZBI, 1316-1317; Horn & Schenkling I, 6085 & 6088.