Paris, Larousse, [ca. 1970, but published 2013]. Single sheet (24.4 x 17.5 cm). Original watercolour drawing with pencilled caption, and ink signature. Mounted on a larger sheet of grey paper (32.4 x 25.0 cm).
A beautiful original illustration by the French engineer, ornithologist, and natural history painter Paul Louis Ernest Adrien Barruel (1901-1982). It is the original artwork for the front board of a French book entitled Carnets Secrets d'un Ornithologue, by Jiguet and Etchecopar, as well as for a Japanese translation of this book. While Barruel was being trained as an engineer, observation of nature became his passion and, in the 1930s, he filled sketchbooks with animals and plants out of desire to find the names of all species he encountered. He publishes his first note on ornithology in 1934. From then on, he travelled across France and abroad to observe and illustrate birds and other wildlife. Together with his wife he visited Morocco and Spain in 1936, Spain in 1936, Britanny and Algeria in 1937, the Camargue in 1940, etc., etc. It was during this period that he began to take an interest in watercolouring, a technique that he quickly mastered and to which he remained faithful throughout his life, with only a few attempts at gouache and pastel. In 1942, he left his job as an engineer and decided to present his work at the Museum National d'Histore Naturelle in Paris where his drawings were favourably received by Jacques Berlioz, then deputy director of the Laboratory of Zoology of Mammals and Birds and himself a watercolourist. There he also met with Robert Daniel Etchecopar who, admiring his talent, became his friend and patron for forty years. Despite the difficult context, in particular for scientific activity, due to the WWII, he soon received assignments to write and illustrate several natural history books. The current plate shows a pair of verdins and their nest. The verdin is a North American bird and in fact the only member of its family, the Remizidae or penduline tits, in the New World. The genus-name Aegithaliscus, neatly written in the lowerleft corner, is no longer in use for this American bird. Top and right edges uncut, therefore, a bit rough, left margin a bit soiled, otherwise fine. Etchecopar, R. D. (Larousse, 2013) Carnets Secrets d'un Ornithologue.