Historiae animalium liber IIII. qui est de piscium & aquatilium animantium natura. Cum iconibus singulorum ad vivum expressis. Continentur in hoc volumine, Gulielmi Rondeletii & Petri Belonii Cenomani de aquatilium singulis scripta.
Zurich, Conrad Froschauer, 1558. Folio (395 x 245 mm). pp. [xl], 1297, with printer's device on title and 737 woodcuts in text, all in outstanding publisher's hand-colouring; a few minor tears in blank margins repaired, some minute wormholes occasionally touching a letter of text, faint waterstaining on upper corner of some gatherings, overall an exceptionally clean and fresh copy in contemporary German blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards, with clasps.
First edition, in fine publisher's hand-colouring, of Gesner's history of fish and aquatic animals.This is the fourth volume of his great encyclopedia of the animal kingdom, the first systematic treatise on zoology of the Renaissance. 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 not confined to fish. A number of molluscs, crustaceans, shells, coral, and other marine organisms and products are illustrated. The original drawings for many of these illustrations were recently discovered in the Amsterdam University Library; the colouring of these match in most cases that of the publisher's colouring, and establishes that they were the templates not only for the woodcuts but also their colouring. 'Many of the images given to Gessner are found in the two Amsterdam albums, which together comprise 369 sheets; 235 images on these sheets (which generally show two or three images per sheet) match illustrations in Gessner's printed works on fish. The aquatic album, with 225 sheets, has 159 matches with Gessner's printed illustrations. The percentage (but not the actual number) of matches with printed illustrations by Gessner is considerably higher for the album containing images of viviparous animals than for the fish album: 76 out of 137 (i.e. slightly more than half) of the Gessner's printed illustrations of viviparous animals match images in the Amsterdam album; 159 out of a total of 524 (i.e. just under a third) of Gessner's printed fish illustrations match the Amsterdam drawings' (Egmond 2016). A detailed study of these has been published by Florke Egmond in 2018. See Florike Egmond and Sachiko Kusukawa, 'Circulation of images and graphic practices in Renaissance natural history: the example of Conrad Gessner', Gesnerus 73/1 (2016), pp 29-72 and Conrad Gessners 'Thierbuch'. Die Originalzeichnungen, Darmstadt 2018. Adams G538; Horblit 39; Nissen ZBI 1553 PMM 77; Wellisch 26.1
Item nr. 9874
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