L'Histoire de la nature des Oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions, & naïfs portraicts retirez du naturel: escrite en sept livres.

Eur 18,000 / USD 18,700
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Paris, Guillaume Cavellat, 1555. Folio (328 x 220 mm). pp. (28), 381, (1), with woodcut portrait ofthe author and 160 woodcuts of birds, text with numerous woodcut initials. Contemporary calf, richly gilt decorated spine in 6 compartments (foot of spine with tiny old repair).

The first great bird book

A well preserved large copy. First edition, Cavellat issue. The first great bird book. It was published slightly earlier than Gessner's famous work on birds which was published in the same year. "Belon enriched the biological sciences by new observations and contributed greatly to the progress of the natural sciences in the sixteenth century... Belon discarded the bases of the comparative method and was not at all afraid of drawing parallels between human and bird skeletons. He was the first to bring order into the world of feathered animals, distinguishing between raptorial birds, diurnal birds of prey, web-footed birds, river birds, field birds, etc... Belon's observations were generally correct. He looked at the world as an analyst devoted to detail. He succeeded in winning the confidence of the great and was famous during his lifetime" (DSB). "Belon's text, as one of the first of his time to be based on direct observations and original drawings, is a major work in the field of natural history" (Mortimer). The two woodcuts in the present work comparing the skeleton of man and bird are rightly famous and make Belon one of the earliest comparative anatomists. The work is in seven parts, each part with a separate title. At the age of 47 Belon was murdered in the Bois de Boulogne.'
Title with old ownership inscription 'Van Panhuysen'. One page with small marginal tear. An unusual fresh and fine copy of this splendidly illustrated work.

Nissen IVB, 86; Zimmer p. 52.