Homographie par brevet d'invention ... Choix de vingt plantes indigènes et coloniales
by AIGUEBELLE, Charles d'
Paris: l'auteur, 1828. Broadsheet. (24 1/4 x 18 inches). Lithographed and nature-printed title with dedication to the Duchesse de Berry. 20 hand coloured lithographed and nature-printed plates, lithographed by Bernard et Delarue (2), Bernard (6), or d'Aiguebelle (12), all after d'Aiguebelle. Each plate with corresponding text leaf, text by L. Madale. (Discoloration to one plate, minor foxing). Contemporary red paper boards, rebacked and retipped to style with red morocco, original red morocco lettering piece on the upper cover A very rare large folio botanical work with hand coloured plates, produced through a unique combination of lithography and nature printing. The very beginning of the use of lithography for botanical illustration can be traced to 1811 with Von Schrank's Flora Monacensis which included lithographs by Johann Nepomuk Mayerhoffer. The ability to draw directly onto the stone, coupled with the medium's effectiveness in showing shifts of tone, appealed to the artist and naturalist alike. Although nature printing had been in use since the end of the 15th century at the time of Leonardo Da Vinci, the process used was simply inking the specimen and pressing it onto the sheet, with each specimen yielding only a small number of good impressions before becoming saturated with ink and damaged. Nevertheless, until the advent of photography, for the scientific world, nature-printing allowed for a degree of accuracy unrivalled except by the most talented of botanical artists. "A collection of good nature prints was a tolerable substitute for an herbarium in a way that no other illustrations could be" (Cave and Wakeman, Typographia Naturalis, p. 1). The invention of lithography, and the limestone's ability to retain its crayon marks even after numerous printings, evidently struck Frenchman Charles d'Aiguebelle as the perfect medium to re-invent nature printing. By "inking" the specimen with wax and applying it directly to the stone, the naturalist could more easily reproduce his specimens while maintaining the faithfulness of the original. Naming the process "Homographie", D'Aiguebelle took his process a step father, by beautifully adding in lithography the fruit, stems and other details of the plants not nature printed, and adding hand colouring overall to enhance both the artistic and scientific merits of the work. Evidently issued in parts, the title would appear to be repeated from the upper parts wrapper, and includes a dedication to the Duchesse de Berry and title within a lithographed and nature-printed wreath. The twenty plates comprise: Le Raisin; La Pivoine; Le Volkameria; Le Framboisier; Le Figuier; La Rose du Roi; Le Tulipier du Bengale; Le Cassis; Le Murier; Le Datura; L'Ibisque Militaire; L'Annone Trilobee; Le Solanum; Le Geranium des Pres; Le Neflier; Le Salvia Sylvestris; Le Passiflore; Le Noisetier; L'Heliotrope; and Le Fusain. Each plate is accompanied by a descriptive text leaf by L. Madale, who is described as "botaniste cultivateur." This is the only work Nissen lists for Charles D'Aiguebelle, who would go on to invent anastatic printing for which he was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Exposition of 1834. By the mid-19th century, nature printing would be accomplished by pressing the specimens under high pressure between steel and soft lead plates, the latter yielding the impression needed for transfer to a copperplate for printing. We know of no other published works which unite lithography and nature printing in the manner of the present work. The work is very rare, with no copies in the famed collections of De Belder or Plesch. Only one other copy has appeared on the market in the last quarter century. Fischer, Zweihundert Jahre Naturselbstdruck 98; Nissen BBI 7; cf. Cave and Wakeman, Typographia Naturalis (Brewhouse Press, 1967).
(Inventory #: 31314)
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