PALLAS, Peter Simon (1741-1811)
Flora Rossica seu stirpium Imperii Rossici per Europam et Asiam indigenarum descriptiones et icones
St. Petersburg: J. J. Weitbrecht, 1784-1788. 2 parts in one volume, folio. (18 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches). Text in Latin, captions in Russian and Latin. Letterpress titles to each part, 101 hand-coloured engraved plates by Karl Friedrich Knappe (numbered 1-100, plus 8 bis). Lacking the hand-coloured engraved title.
Modern speckled half calf, spine in six compartments with raised bands, gilt, yellow edges. Front endpaper creased.
Provenance: Frederick du Cane Godman (bookplate)
First edition of the first great illustrated Russian flora.
Peter Simon Pallas, born in Berlin in 1741, was a zoologist and botanist who began studying natural history at an early age, eventually receiving his doctorate degree from the University of Leiden. He relocated and worked in Russia in 1767, when Catherine II invited him to become a professor at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, becoming a "favorite" naturalist of hers. Throughout his time in Russia, he conducted multiple expeditions across the region and wrote prolifically on zoology, botany, and other natural history subjects. For the present work, Pallas was provided with the specimens to create a complete catalogue of the native plant and animal life of Russia, funded by Catherine II. Although Pallas originally intended to include over 500 plates, an unforeseen change in governmental administration resulted in a lack of funds available to complete the project; the second volume never materialized, with only a few copies of its first part issued, and the present volume, as normal, contains parts I and II of the first volume. Though the work remained unfinished, it was an immense accomplishment in natural history as the first publication of its kind.
Dunthorne 221; Great Flower Books (1990) p.124; Hunt 672; Nissen BBI 1482; Pritzel 6905; Stafleu & Cowan 7227.