GESSNER, C.

Icones Animalium Quadrupedum Viviparorum et Oviparum, quae in Historiae Animalium Conradi Gesneri Libr. I. et II. describuntur... Editio Tertia. Novis Eiconibus non paucis?. Die figuren und contrafacturen von allerley vierfüssigen Thieren.

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Heidelberg, A. Cambier, 1606. Folio (360 x 240mm). pp. 127, (1, blank), (6, indices), with woodcut printer's device and 141 woodcuts. [With:] Icones Avium omnium, quae in historia avium Conradi Gesneri describuntur ... Editio Tertia. Novis aliquot Eiconibus auctior ... Die Figuren und contrafacturen der vögeln. Heidelberg, A. Cambier 1606. pp. 137. (7), with large woodcut on title and 229 woodcuts of birds. [With:] Nomenclator Aquatilium Animantium. Icones Animalium Aquatilium in mari & dulcibus aquis ... Figuren und Contrafacturen von allerley Fischen und anderen Thieren/ die im meer und süssen wasseren gefunden werdend ... Zurich, C. Froschauer, 1560. pp. (28), 374, (2), with 737 woodcuts. [With:] Historiae Animalium Liber II. Qui est de Quadrupedibus Oviparis? Frankfurt, H. Laurentius, 1617. pp. (6, 2 blank), 119, with woodcut on title and 19 woodcuts. Contemporary vellum, contemporary manuscript title on spine.

the greatest zoological encyclopaedia of the sixteenth century

A set of the complete 'Icones Animalium', which comprises the complete series of woodcuts from Gesner's 'Historia Animalium' (1551-1558), along with some that appear in this edition for the first time. This was the greatest zoological encyclopaedia of the sixteenth century and the greatest pictorial assembly of zoological illustration of its time. The illustrations are the first original zoological illustrations and the first naturalistic representations of animals to be published. As such they herald the birth of zoological book illustration. They are the archetypes of much subsequent animal illustrations, even into the eighteenth century. The woodcuts were cut after paintings by Lukas Schan, some of which survive as part of the Felix Patter collection in the Basle University Library.
The 'Icones' utilizes the entire assembly of woodcuts, but largely eliminates the text, apart from the nomenclature.
I. The 'Historia animalium de quadrupedium viviparis' dealing with mammals, was the first part of the zoological encyclopaedia on mammals. The present 'Icones Animalium Quadrupedum et Oviparum' incorporates the separately published 'Historia animalium liber II. De quadrupedibus oviparis' and is the 3rd edition.
II. The 'Historia animalium de avium' woodcuts are the second important suite of ornithological iconography, being roughly contemporary with those of Belon published the same year. They are the precursors of many of Aldrovandi's illustrations, many of which were copied from Gesner. The present 'Icones Avium' is the 3rd edition.
III. The 'Historia animalium de piscium & aquatilium' was Gesner's history of fish and aquatic animals. The woodcuts form the fourth great series of ichthyological illustrations, after Belon (1551), Rondelet (1554) and Salviani (1554), but are also the first general series of marine illustrations (including conchology), not confined to fish. The present 'Nomenclator Aquatilium Animantium. Icones animalium aquatilium' is the 1st edition.
IV. The 'Historiae Animalium Liber II. Qui est de Quadrupedibus Oviparis' is not part of the 'Icones' but the second volume of his 'Historia Animalium' on amphibia and the 3rd edition. It is incorporated in 'Icones Animalium Quadrupedum et Oviparum' see no. I.
'The title pages ... bear subtitles in Italian, French and German, probably because they were aimed at a larger market and at people who could no longer read Latin. These are the only title pages of Gesner's original works with text in vernacular languages. The illustrations themselves also carry captions in all four languages' (Wellisch, Conrad Gessner. A Bio-Biography p 69).
An attractively bound set. First few leaves with marginal brown spot. The section on fishes very clean, the others with some occasional browning.

Provenance: First title page with old owner's name Gottfried Eichorn. Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752-1827) was a German Protestant theologian of the Enlightenment and an early orientalist. On inside frontcover engraved armorial bookplate with initials C.W.G.V.N., bookplate of Christoph Wentzel, Graf von Nostitz (1648-1712).

Wellisch A 29.3; A 30,3; A 31.1; 24.3. and PMM 77 for the 'Historia animalium' (1551-1558).