MIGER, Simon Charles (1736-1820) after Nicolas MARÉCHAL (1753-1803)
Struthio Casuarius / Le Casoar
Paris: Printed by Langlois, circa 1800-1. Rare colour-printed copper engraving, with additional hand-colouring. Printed on wove paper. Very good condition apart from some overall light soiling and minor foxing. Sheet size: 20 1/4 x 13 inches. Plate mark: 15 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches.
A beautiful plate with stunning early colour, from Lacépède's "La Menagerie du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle," an important scholarly work and one of the finest examples of eighteenth-century French natural history illustration.
A professor of zoology at the Museum of Natural History, the French naturalist Bernard-Germain-Étienne Delaville, Comte de Lacépède (1756-1825) was a versatile and precocious scholar who published a number of books on zoology, physics, and music. He was greatly influenced by the pioneering naturalist Georges Louis Marie Leclerc, comte de Buffon, whom he succeeded as Intendant at the Jardin du Roi, which later became the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle in 1793. During his tenure, Lacépède completed a comprehensive study of amphibians and reptiles, Historie Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares et des Serpens, which was published as a supplement to Buffon's magnum opus on animal classification Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière. In 1800-1, he published the first edition of La Menagerie du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, a thorough survey of the various species of quadrupeds, reptiles and amphibians in the impressive collection of the Museum of Natural History. This magnificent work was comprised of descriptive text written by Lacépède and his colleague Georges L. C., Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) as well as a number of finely rendered plates after the most eminent natural history artists of the period, Nicolas Maréchal (1753-1803), Nicolas Huet (1770-1830) and Léon de Wailly (1801-1824). Painted from life on vellum, these beautifully detailed illustrations faithfully captured the appearance of the wondrous animals in the Paris menagerie. A pupil of J. G. Wille and C. N. Cochin, Simon Charles Miger was a royal academician and a talented engraver, who executed numerous portraits and natural history plates.
Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, vol. 9, p. 611; Anker 275; BM(NH) IV, p. 1517; Brunet III, 725; Nissen ZBI 2353.