Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit. Charles Louis L'HERITIER DE BRUTELLE.
Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.
Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.
Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.
Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.

Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.
Stirpes Novæ, aut minus cognitæ, quas descriptionibus et iconibus illustravit.

Paris: Paris Philip-Dionysius Pieres (part-titles add: sold by Louis-Nicolas Prevost, Paris; Peter Elmsley, London; and Rudolph Gräffer, Vienna and Leipzig), 1784-1791.

6 parts in 1 volume, folio, (510 x 355 mm); with a general title-page, six part-titles (each with one or two woodcut vignettes) and 91 engraved plates (two double-page): 54 after Pierre Joseph Redouté, 26 after Freret, two after Prevost, two after Fossier, two after Jossigny, one after Aubriet, one after Sowerby, two after Bruguière and one anonymous, all in very good hand-colouring, protected by tissue guards; 19th-century green half sheepskin.

The first book with engravings after Redouté: with 91 hand-coloured botanical plates

A superb copy with glorious hand-colouring: a ground-breaking work of botany, this was the first significant work with engravings by the greatest botanical artist of the age, Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

A superb copy with glorious hand-colouring: a ground-breaking work of botany, this was the first significant work with engravings by the greatest botanical artist of the age, Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

L'Héritier 'persuaded the young Redouté to make fifty-four drawings for his "magnum opus". The book is splendid in its spacious descriptions, its charming exotic plates, its implications for taxonomic history; and fascinating as an imposing piece of eighteenth-century bookmaking... It is in "Stirpes novae" that Luxemburg-born Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) emerges as an extraordinary botanical artist. He had the great good luck to have the very fine Dutch artist Gerrit van Spaëndonck (1746-1822) as his master in drawing, and L'Héritier de Brutelle as his instructor in "choses botaniques"'(Hunt).

Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle (1746-1800) was a self-taught French botanist who held several official positions; he corresponded with Joseph Banks and visited London several times, using the resources of the library at Soho Square and the gardens at Kew to write his two major books, the present work Stirpes Novæ (basically "new species") and his Sertum Anglicum (1788).

Through his connection with Banks, it was L'Héritier who wrote the first scientific description of the Eucalyptus, based on a specimen collected by David Nelson on Cook's third voyage. Here he publishes an impressive range of exotic plants from the new worlds, including a large number collected by Joseph Dombey in South America, as well as many African and Indian Ocean plants, with dozens from the Cape of Good Hope and three from Mauritius sent to France by Bougainville's old shipmate Commerson. While the inclusion of plants from French gardens and botanists is to be expected in such a work, there is also an important group from the personal collection of Banks, most having been collected by Francis Masson, the private plant hunter sent out by Banks to South Africa on Cook's Resolution in 1772, and later a formidable collector in the Atlantic and central America. One plant, the Rhodora canadensis (Newfoundland) is specifically recorded by L'Héritier as from Banks personally.

The book was originally planned to comprise two volumes, but only the first six fascicles were published (the present copy includes a leaf announcing the seventh fascicle). It was published with the plates either uncoloured (the majority of copies) or as a special edition with most of the plates colour-printed and finished by hand. In the present copy all 91 plates are in contemporary or near-contemporary colouring, finely executed and differing in detail from that of those copies with colour-printed plates.

Although L'Héritier was initially embraced by the revolutionary government in France, successfully serving under both the ancien régime and the revolutionary government, most significantly as a senior environmental advisor (he was a royal superintendent for forests and waters in the Parisian region), like many of his colleagues he was lucky to survive the excesses of the Terror and seems to have inspired bitter enmity from his political rivals: he was assassinated on 18 August 1800, and the case has never been solved.

Redouté's friendship with him proved a determining factor in the great botanical artist's career and enabled him to fully develop his extraordinary talents.

Their superb collaboration here combined priority of description with new standards in engraving and book design: the elegant illustrations and the unusually fine letterpress created a model that would be much emulated over ensuing decades, not least through the direct influence of Redouté himself. It has been described as "one of the more delightful flower books of the eighteenth century" by a "botanist of unusual abilities and resources" (Hunt).

De Belder, 215; Cat. Redouteana, 1; GFB, pp. 64-65; Hunt, 673; Johnston, 555; Nissen, BBI 1190; Pritzel, 5268; Stafleu & Cowan, 4484; cf. Buchheim, "A bibliographical account of L'Héritier's 'Stirpes novae'", in: Huntia, vol. 2, (1965), pp. 29-58.

Price (AUD): $62,000.00  other currencies Ref: #4505038

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