Author Delarue, J. Musée ornithologique. Collection d'oiseaux de toutes les parties du monde [AND] Galerie des mammifères [AND] Musée J. Delarue [AND] Études d'animaux dans le paysage.
Published 1841-1850
Item ID 71600
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[Paris], J. Delarue, [after 1841]-ca. 1850. Four works in two. Oblong folio atlases. (26.5 x 34.1 cm). With 106 lithographed and finely hand-coloured plates, each captioned below the images [ Musée ornithologique 24; Galerie des mammifères 32; Musée Delarue 30; Études d'animaux 20]. Uniform green, gilt-bordered half calf over green boards. Spines with four raised, gilt-ornamented bands and brown morocco label with gilt title. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. A fine collection of four extremely rare to entirely unknown atlases, depicting birds (mostly) and mammals, as well as a few other animals, including butterflies, by the mysterious, highly skilled French bird painter, engraver and natural history author Jean Delarue (sometimes spelled De la Rue). Of the four works gathered here, only the first ( Musée ornithologique. Collection d'oiseaux de toutes les parties du monde ), second ( Galerie des mammifères ) and last (Études d'animaux dans le paysage ) are - partially - recorded. Of the first, the Smithsonian (Cullman Library) in Washington DC holds an incomplete suite with plates 13-24 only. No complete copies are known. Of the second, also no complete copies are known, but OCLC lists one incomplete copy (15 plates), in the Waidner-Spahr Library, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. The title is different, namely Galerie des mammifères: dessinés et lithographiés , and Arnauld de Vresse is listed as publisher. The third title, Musée J. Delarue is entirely unrecorded. Of the fourth title (Études d'animaux dans le paysage ), which is completely devoted to ornithology, a copy with just ten (instead of 20) plates was part of the famous H. Bradley Martin sale, and a second one (or the same?) is in Amherst College, Amherst, MA. The latter is also listed as being published by de Vresse - who added a title page - and printed by Laurant et Cie, whereas this suite of 20 plates was printed by Delarue himself. Ronsil gives 1850 as the publishing date for the de Vresse issue. The following plates, however, have never been recorded before: Coq et poules (cock and chickens), dindons domestiques (turkeys), oies domestiques (geese), paons (peacocks), bécasses (snipes), ibis rouges (red ibises), faisan de la chine (Chinese pheasants), émous ou casouars sans casque (emus), petit coq de bruyère (black grouses), and outardes canepetières (little bustards). The other three titles are virtually unknown; not even recorded by Ronsil in his Bilbliographie ornithologique française (1948). Only in his later (1957) l'Art Français dans le livre d'oiseaux , he mentions, in passing, not only the abridged edition of the Études , but also the Musée ornithologique (dated 1851). The four works present here all share the same oblong format, detailed lithography, fine hand-colouring, scientific accuracy and vivid compositions. The illustrations of the Musée Delarue which includes illustrations of butterflies, other insects, molluscs, reptiles and amphibians, and even fruits, flowers and minerals, are reminiscent of those in Guérin's Dictionnaire pittoresque , but generally they are livelier, more informative and more natural. In the captions of the Musée ornithologique, Galerie and Études , the author refers to his publication activities as à Paris, chez l'Auteur (Spécialité d'Histoire Naturelle) rue Montagne Ste. Geneviève, 6, or Paris, Codoni, rue Grenier St. Lazare, 18. The extreme rarity and exquisite colouration could be explained by assuming that these suites were printed by Delarue in very low numbers only to advertise his skills and - perhaps - to attract another publisher for wider distribution. Hence the addresses on each plate, and, presumably, the abridged de Vresse editions of the Galerie des mammifères and Musée ornithologique . The peculiar titles and the absence of title pages and additional text further support this theory. Delarue contributed to Alcide d'Orbigny's Galerie ornithologique , published between 1836 and 1839 (vide Sitwell Fine Bird Books, p. 92), and one other very rare bird book, namely Oiseaux d'Europe (recorded by Ronsil, p. 140, number 780). Delarue was a highly gifted artist in natural sciences about whom little seems to be known. The French national library records only that he was born in the 18th century, but no precise date is known. Works including his illustrations were published up to 1861. He was responsible for 30 superb plates in Alcide d'Orbigny's Galerie ornithologique (1836-1839), and for many insect plates in Charles d'Orbigny's Dictionaire universel… (1849), and also, according to Ronsil (p. 69) in his l'Art Français (1958), for the four plates in John Kirk Townsend's aborted and mythically rare Ornithology of the United States of North America (1839). No plate is dated, but the inclusion of the hummingbird, Ornysmia clarissii [= Heliangulus clarisse (Longuemare)], which was first described in 1841 suggests a date after that year, at least for the Musée ornithologique . The name Columba Zambos for a dove from Sumatra, is nowhere recorded. It seems to be a spelling variant of C. jambu , the Jambu fruit-dove, but this is not certain and the name is available in zoological nomenclature, perhaps applicable to a subspecies. Boards and spines with some skilful restorations; the original gutta percha glue was dried out and replaced by a new conservation-friendly substitute, but not very solid, it needs to be handled with care. Some occasional light spotting, a few leaves with very slight thumbing in the lower margin but generally very clean; the colouring lively and naturally. Ronsil, l'Art Français dans le livre d'oiseaux , p. 69 [in part]; not in any other major or minor bibliography, e.g. Cat. BM(NH); Junk, Rara ; Nissen IVB and ZBI, Ronsil, Bibliographie ornithologique française ; Wood, Zimmer, etc.