LESSON, René Primevère (1794-1849)
Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux-Mouches ... [with:] Histoire Naturelle des Colibris, suivie d'un Supplement a L'Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux-Mouches
Paris: Arthus Bertrand, [1829-1830]; [1830-1832]. Two volumes in four (with the text and plates for each bound separately), 8vo. (9 x 5 5/8 inches). [Oiseaux-Mouches:] 86 hand coloured engraved plates by Coutant after A. G. Bévalet, J.-G. Prêtre, Mlle. Zoë Dumont, Mme. Lesson and A. C. Vauthier, printed by Rémond (numbered 1-85, plus 48 bis). [Colibris:] 66 hand-coloured engraved plates by Coutant and Teillard after J.-G. Prêtre and A.G. Bévalet, printed by Rémond (Colibris numbered 1-25, plus 12 and 13 bis [misbound into the Oiseaux-Mouches vol.]; Supplement numbered 1-39). Minor dampstaining.
Contemporary red and green morocco, bound by Bunetier, covers elaborated bordered in gilt, flat spines gilt, silk endpapers, gilt edges
Provenance: armorial bookplate on the front pastedown
First editions of Lesson's beautifully illustrated monographs on humming-birds.
Described by Wood as fundamental classics, Lesson's monographs were the most comprehensive treatment of the Trocholidae until Gould began his monumental work 20 years later. Lesson's beautifully-illustrated work benefits from showing the subjects in their natural poses and being based on the author's personal observations of the birds in their natural habitat. Lesson was educated at the naval medical school at Rochefort. In 1822 he joined the company of the expeditionary ship 'Coquille', serving as medical officer and naturalist with P. Garnot, under the natural historian J.-S.-C. Dumont d'Urville. The fieldwork that Lesson performed during the two-and-half-year circumnavigation was the foundation of both his fame as a natural historian, and also provided much of the information and experience that he used when writing this and his other companion monographs. When "Cuvier and Latreille reported to the Academy of Sciences on the ['Coquille'] expedition's zoological data and collections [...] Lesson and Garnot were praised for bringing back hitherto unknown species of birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Lesson was also cited for his remarkable colored illustrations of fish and mollusks and for his valuable aid to Dumont d'Urville for the insect collection" (DSB VIII, p.265).
Anker 291 and 293; Ayer/Zimmer p. 386; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.117; Nissen IVB 547 and 548; Ronsil 1774; Wood p. 433.