One hundred and twenty copper-plates of English Moths and Butterflies, representing their changes into the Caterpillar, Chrysalis, and Fly States, and the Plants, Flowers, and Fruits, whereon they feed. Coloured with great exactness from the subjects themselves. With a Natural History of the Moths and Butterflies, describing the method of managing, preserving, and feeding them...
London, Benjamin White, 1773. 4to (307 x 265mm). pp. (2), 8, (22), 63, (1), (4), with 120 fine hand-coloured engraved plates. Contemporary green half morocco, spine in 6 compartments with gilt ornamented butterflies, lines and lettering.
Second edition. The first edition was published 1747-49, by the same publisher. One of the most beautifully illustrated works on English butterflies and moths, most of the plants, fruits, and flowers of the fine plates are after drawings by George Ehret and Jacob van Huysum. In the preface of the present work Henry Baker, who compiled the text for Wilkes, writes: "As to the Plants, Flowers and Fruits, he [Wilkes] declares himself under the highest obligation to a most curious Naturalist, and worthy member of the Royal Society of London, whose costly and valuable Collection is known to the learned world, and esteemed as it derserves. This Gentleman has generously permitted him to make use of many excellent Paintings of these subjects, which were taken from Nature by those two celebrated Artists Mr. George Dennis [sic] Ehret, and Mr. Jacobus van Heysum [sic], and executed with the utmost Judgment and Command of Pencil, so that he could hardly doubt but that the true Copies of them would give great Pleasure to the Lovers of Botany, whom he has endeavoured to entertain with all the Variety he could introduce". The 'most curious Naturalist' is Joseph Banks who had purchased some 65 finished drawings by Ehret. "Benjamin Wilkes was one of the most significant of the group of eighteenth-century 'aurelians' which established British entomology in the direction it was to follow for well over a century" (Wilkinson, Benjamin Wilkes, the British Aurelian p. 4). It has only recently been rediscovered that the plates of Wilkes' work were to a large extent after drawings by the most renowned botanical painters of the 18th century, George Ehret 'Flower painter extraordinary' and Jacob van Huysum. A fine copy . Nissen ZBI, 4410a; Lisney 186.
Item nr. 9663
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