Exotic ornithology, containing figures and descriptions of new or rare species of American birds.
Item ID 71754
London, Bernard Quaritch, 1866-1869. Large 4to/Folio (36.4 x 28.1 cm). Title page, vi [recte iv], pp.; 100 plates [I-C; Roman numerals] by Joseph Smit, with explanatory text leaves (numbered consecutively), a few text engravings. Contemporary red gilt-bordered half morocco over marbled boards. Spine with five raised bands; compartments rich gilt with floral patterns and gilt title. Marbled endpapers. Top edge gilt. One of the most beautiful books on tropical American birds, with fine, large plates. Written by the British ornithologists Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913) and his fellow member of the Royal Society, Osbert Savin (1835-1898), with fine plates by the "other" (some say better) Dutch bird painter, Joseph Smit (1836-1923). "As soon as Smit arrived in England Sclater entrusted to him both the drawings and lithography for the illustrations to his Exotic ornithology ...Smit has done an excellent job with these plates, for the lovingly detailed birds stand out sharply against their backgrounds of trees, branches and leaves. It is obvious that Smit enjoyed painting the leaves as well as the birds ... When Wolf died in 1899, Smit was considered the best animal painter in this country" (Jackson). Anker regards this work as "A late continuation of Buffon's Planches enluminées ". A detailed dating of the 13 parts is given by Zimmer. Provenance: Bookplate of the Avicultural Society - T. H. Newman bequest 1944 - on the front pastedown. Skilful repair to the front board edge and front hinge. Endpapers spotted, title page less so, but the text - save the odd light spot - and the plates absolutely clean. An excellent copy. Anker, 450; Jackson, Bird illustrators , pp. 75-83; Nissen IVB, 844; Sitwell, Fine Bird Books , p. 139; Zimmer, p. 560.