VIEILLOT, Louis Jean Pierre (1748-1831)
Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux de l'Amérique Septentrionale, Contenant un Grand Nombre d'Espèces Decrites ou Figurées pour la Première Fois
Paris: chez Desray, 1807-. 2 volumes, folio. (21 5/8 x 13 1/2 inches). Uncut. 131 etched plates after J.-G. Pretre by L. Bouquet, printed in colors by Langlois and finished by hand, extra-illustrated with a double-page engraved map of L'Amerique Septentrionale (as usual, plate number 42 from an Atlas Universel).
Contemporary red morocco, covers with border of gilt fillets and a dog-tooth roll, spines in six compartments with double-raised bands, the bands highlighted with gilt tooling and the space between each pair of bands with a narrow onlay of black morocco, lettered in gilt on labels in the second and third compartments, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers
Provenance: Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone (1796-1883, armorial bookplate); Robert James Lindsay (1832-1901, Baron Wantage of Lockinge, VC, KCB, FRS, circular armorial booklabel)
A fine uncut wide-margined copy of the first edition of this classic of American ornithology.
The work contains descriptions of many North American birds, some of which predate those of Alexander Wilson. Vieillot, along with Wilson, was a pioneer in a new kind of ornithology in which birds were no longer assessed as specimens and skins but studied as living organisms within their environment. "Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot was one of the more discerning ornithologists who gave particular study to female, immature and seasonal plumages" (Allen). The plates bear all the hallmarks of the great French natural history books of the first two decades of the 19th century. The plates are individual works of art, whilst also being scientifically-accurate pictorial documents of the highest order, and they are, invariably, carefully observed and beautifully printed.
Allen 549-552; Anker 515; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.112; Nissen IVB 957; Ronsil 3030; Yale/Ripley p.300; Zimmer p.654.