Very early photography of lepidoptera and fine original watercolours by Guenée and Sylvester Diggles

Guenée, A. [AND] S. Diggles

Dessins originaux de l'Iconographie des Chenilles.

Published 1825-1863
Item ID 76465
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Chateaudun, not published, ca. 1825-1863. Small folio (25.6 x 18.1 cm). Blank leaves with 123 mounted leaves, with one or more watercolour and pencil drawings; three albumen prints, and two printed leaves. Near-contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards. Spine with gilt ornamental bands, floral vignettes, and title.

A very early attempt to use photography for the illustration of lepidoptera; three original albumen photos of moths are included. This work is divided into two sections: the first and largest deals mostly with caterpillars, both of butterflies and moths, the second, separated by a few - apparently deliberately blank - leaves deals mainly with butterflies ('Rhopalocera'). The artist, Achille Guenée (1809-1880) was a French lawyer and entomologist. "He was educated in Chartres, where he showed a very early interest in butterflies and was encouraged and taught by François de Villiers (1790-1847). He went to study law in Paris, then entered the 'Bareau'. After the death of his only son, he lived at Châteaudun in Chatelliers. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Châteaudun was burned by the Prussians but Guénée's collections remained intact. He was the author of 63 publications, some with Philogène Auguste Joseph Duponchel (1774-1846). He notably wrote Species des nocturnes (six volumes, 1852-1857) forming parts of the Suites à Buffon. This work of almost 1,300 pages treats Noctuidae of the world. Also co-author, with Jean Baptiste Boisduval, of Histoire naturelle des Insectes. Species général des Lépidoptères (vols 5-10, 1836-57). He was a founding member 1832 of the Société Entomologique de France, (1832) and was president in 1848 then honorary member in 1874" (Wikipedia). The quality of the illustrations is very high, being very detailed, accurate and extremely well-coloured. Several may have been a basis for published illustrations. Several are dated, between 1825, and 1863. The spine title, Iconographie des chenilles, refers to Duponchel and Guenée's Iconographie des Chenilles, pour faire suite à l'ouvrage intitulé: Histoire Naturelle des Lépidoptères, ou Papillions de France, published between 1832 and 1849. Perhaps Guenée was planning a supplement, or broader work. Several drawings, from Scotland, and from Australia ("Brisbane") are signed S. Diggles. The British-born Australian naturalist and illustrator Silvester Diggles (1817-1880) is best-known for his The Ornithology of Australia: being illustrations of two hundred and forty-four birds (1870). He moved to Australia in 1853. Apparently, he corresponded with Guenée. At least one drawing by him bears a note, in his handwriting, "for Monr Guenée". Boards rubbed at edges rear upper joint starting, several leaves detached; otherwise very good. A unique item. Horn-Schenkling, 5596.

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