Catalogues & Lists
Whether in the highly stylized aesthetic of the Parisian art deco designer George Barbier, pioneering anthropologies in voyage accounts, in maps, portraits, games or tools for teaching the young, this month’s themed list explores costume in all its forms. Often images were so striking they re-occur in accounts decades — or centuries later. The spirit behind many of the works is very much that of the Enlightenment — a tremendous curiosity about newly discovered parts of the world and about human behaviour, particularly for ritualised behavior. The late Professor Bernard Smith noted (here specifically of the work of St-Sauveur included in this list) ‘The engravings published in Cook’s Voyages provided new visual information about many previously unknown peoples, and greatly enlarged Europe’s knowledge of the family of man… as artists copied the engravings so they altered them still further in the direction of European pre-conceptions, the anthropological and ethnographic intentions of the originals being diverted increasingly to fulfil the demands of taste and the intrinsic needs of decoration.’ (European Vision and the South Pacific, p. 113).
Our featured item is William Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations—a particularly attractive set of both the first and second series of this beautiful work of natural history. The importance of this work to Australian and Pacific natural history cannot be overestimated: several plates feature Australian specimens figured for the first time, while many of the illustrations are derived from the collections of important figures such as Sir Joseph Banks, Elizabeth Bligh, Allan Cunningham and John Byron.
Our featured item is a slim work of great beauty, John Richardson’s Icones Piscium: the first separately published work on Australian fishes, the plates after drawings by James Barker Emery, the first Lieutenant on the Beagle voyage during her survey of the Australian coast 1837-1841.
A very finely painted depiction of a traditional Greenlandic Inuit hunter after harp seals in his distinctive hunting kayak. The unsigned watercolour is of considerable quality and style, and depicts an Inuit pursuit with a level of detail whose accuracy modern historical sources now confirm.
Our February catalogue has been prepared for upcoming exhibitions in California.The list encompasses treasures relating to Cook's Voyages: the first American edition of Hawkesworth; the two surreptitious accounts by Marra and Magra; a highly unusual copy of Parkinson with the plates in duplicate; Webber's Views of the South Seas; and a great rarity--the French edition of Samwell's Death of Cook--no copy has appeared on the open market in 50 years. As befits a West Coast catalogue we have listed the first two works on wine & vines by James Busby in their colonial Sydney printings. The greatest voyage of the intellect: Charles Darwin's account of the voyage of the Beagle is included together with our featured item--John Hayter's striking group portrait of the three Fuegians who accompanied Darwin.
John Hayter's striking portrait of the three Yahgans ("Fuegians") who accompanied Charles Darwin on the Beagle voyage is featured above. (The full account of the Beagle voyage may also be viewed here) Darwin's experience with the Yahgans both on the voyage and in their homeland can be singled out as formative in his development of ideas for both the Origin and for The Descent of Man.
This catalogue highlights a selection of manuscript and printed rarities from the 18th & 19th Century, including Cook, Kerguelen and Dumont D'Urville through to those from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration represented by Amundsen and Mawson.