Zoological Illustrations, or original figures and descriptions of New, Rare, or Interesting Animals, selected chiefly from the classes of Ornithology, Entomology, and Conchology. First Series & Second Series.
London, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1820-1833. 6 volumes. 8vo (250 x 160mm). With 318 beautifully handcoloured lithographed plates. Contemporary brown half morocco, gilt ornamented spines in 6 compartments, topedges gilt.
A very fine clean and beautifully bound set of one of the earliest natural history works to be produced by means of lithography in England. 122 plates show shells, the others birds and insects, mainly butterflies. The excellent plates are all drawn by the author. At the suggestion of his friend W.E. Leach of the British Museum, he learnt lithography. Swainson is considered one of the best zoological artists of his time. "The authors of those books were clearly as much seduced by colour as were the book buyers. And in the context of the period, this is scarcely surprising. The world of nature can never before have seemed so colourful: from all parts of the globe came a seemingly endless succession of animals ..." (Dance, The Art of Natural History p. 112). "At the first opportunity he took passage to South America... He returned in 1816 with 20.000 insects and hundreds of birds and plants, enough to keep his studies going for some time... Both the upper and underside of the wings of this butterfly (Cressida heliconides, vol. 3 series 2 plate 94) are illustrated as an aid to identifying the butterfly in the field, both at rest and in flight. For a long time the only museum in Europe having a specimen of this butterfly was that of Sir Joseph Banks. The butterfly was captured in 'Van Diemen's Land' (Tasmania) during Bank's travels with Captain Cook. Swainson's specimen came from the same place..." (Gilbert, Butterfly Collectors and Painters pp. 98 & 104). Many new or very rare species are described and depicted for the first time. Provnance: Armorial bookplate of W.T. Bree, Allesley Rectory. Nissen IVB, 911; Dance 305.
Item nr. 9860
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