ABBOT, John (1751-1840); after.
[Album of watercolor drawings of butterflies and moths after Abbot, titled in manuscript:] Histoire naturelle des lépidoptères les plus rares de Géorgie d'après les observations de M. Jean Abbot. Imprimé à Londres en 1797.
[France: 1800-1830]. Oblong 8vo. (6 3/8 x 8 inches). Manuscript title within a red ruled border, 2pp. manuscript index in rear. 40 pen-and-ink and watercolour drawings, each captioned in red ink, recto only on 40 sheets of wove paper (watermarked Horne).
Contemporary black morocco-backed blue paper covered boards, yellow endpapers (lacks front free endpaper)
Beautiful French album of watercolours of lepidoptera after Abbot.
John Abbot was one of the most important American natural history artists and his illustrations are amongst the finest ever made. Born in London in 1751, Abbot sailed for Virginia in July 1773, with orders for both actual specimens and drawings of the local insects. For the next two years he continued to collect and paint, sending home three insect collections, although only one arrived safely. The loss of these two valuable collections at sea together with the worry over political unrest in Virginia led Abbot to move to Georgia: he settled in St. George Parish (later Burke County), Georgia in December 1775. Abbot traveled widely throughout Georgia devoting his time to the study of the natural flora and fauna. The flow of specimen collections and watercolours of insects ensured that his name became known to many of the foremost natural scientists and collectors of the day, both in America and Europe.
Abbot's Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia was first published in London in 1797. The present French manuscript includes forty watercolours based on the plates from that edition. The images comprise 53 depictions of butterflies and moths on the 40 sheets, with 11 of the images including depictions of the lepidoptera in caterpillar form and several with depictions of flora and/or chrysalis. Each image is captioned in French above or below the image and numbered 1-40 in the upper right corner; the alphabetical index corresponds to each watercolor ensuring that no images have been removed from the album.
Between 1829 and 1837, interest in Abbot in France was greatly elevated due to the publication of a new work based on Abbot watercolours commissioned by lepidopterist Jean Baptiste Boisduval and John Eatton LeConte. It would seem possible that this album was related in some way to lepidopterist Jean Baptiste Boisduval.
Cf. Vivian Rogers-Price, John Abbot in Georgia: The Vision of a Naturalist Artist (Madison, Georgia: Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, 1983); cf. John V. Calhoun, A Glimpse into a Flora et Entomologia, in Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 60:1 (2006).