Paris, Desnos, 1772. Folio (49.5 x 33.0 cm). Engraved, hand-coloured frontispiece, letterpress title with wood-engraved vignette; 64 pp.; double suite of 170 engraved plates, of which half originally hand-coloured, and the other half plain. Contemporary full calf. Spine with six raised, gilt-ornamented bands, compartments rich gilt with floral vignettes and corner pieces, and two red morocco labels with gilt title. Boards with triple-gilt borders, double gilt-lined edges and gilt zig-zag inner dentelles. Marbled endpapers. All edges gilt.
A fabulous, wide-margined, double-suite copy, in extraordinary contemporary, if not original hand-colouring. Largely written by the eminent Polish (Scottish born) naturalist John Jonston (1603-1675), who studied botany and medicine at the University of Cambridge, and edited by the French naturalist, physician, lawyer and writer Pierre-Joseph Buc'hoz (1731-1807), followed - as usual - by a suite of bird plates by the French artist Nicolas Robert (1614-1685), after exotic birds kept in the Royal Menagerie at Versailles by the French King Louis XIV (23 plates - first with engraved title), originally published in 1676. Robert has the reputation of being the greatest natural history artist of the seventeenth century and his ornithological work is even scarcer than his famous botanical illustrations. Jonston is also known for his artistic quality. The Robert illustrations, and most of Jonston's illustrations (on 62 plates) accurately depict existing (and a few extinct) birds; the Jonston part also includes several mythological birds, like the harpy, the phoenix and the griffin. This edition is the first with additional information and corrections by Buc'hoz, printed on excellent paper and very beautifully coloured. Pierre-Joseph Buc'hoz (1731-1807) was a French naturalist, lawyer and physician, who became a doctor of medicine in Nancy in 1763, He was devoted to zoology, in particular ornithology, and botany, “but [he] was also interested in the treatment of melancholy and recommended music as therapy. He travelled throughout his native Lorraine and published a 13-volume Histoire naturelle of the province. Teaching botany as well, he was demonstrator at the Collège Royal des Médecins de Nancy. Author of many works of botany he also studied animals (in particular birds) and minerals” (Wikipedia). We follow Ronsil in dating this work from 1772 (date on the title page). Nissen states 1773-1774. Sometimes these works are found together with Maria Sybilla Merian's Histoire des Insectes & Plantes. Buc'hoz suggested (on the title page) that this work would make a useful addition to the entomological and botanical works by Merian, for which he also edited a new edition. Some skilful repairs to the spine and labels and some wear to the front and rear panels. An exceptional copy with all plates in a black & white and a hand-coloured state. There are only two copies with the plates in colour (not double-suite) the one dating from 2002 fetched GBP 43,000. Nissen IVB, 484; Ronsil, 1503 (for Jonston), 2599 (for Robert).