François Levaillant (1753-1824), was a noted explorer who travelled through South Africa, recording his journeys in two accounts, however today his fame rests more with his superb ornithological works describing many new and exotic species. Le Vaillant was among the first to consider the use of coloured plates of birds in his descriptions, mounting his bird specimens, which had been preserved with arsenic soap, in lifelike positions allowing the illustrators to show them in near realistic poses.
His most notable publications are: Histoire naturelle des oiseaux d'Afrique (1796–1808, 6 vols) with drawings by Jacques Barraband, Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de paradis (1801–06), Histoire naturelle des cotingas et des todiers (1804) and Histoire naturelle des calaos (1804).
First edition. Two vols, folio (53 x 34 cm); 145 stipple engraved plates after Jacques Barraband, printed in colours and finished by hand (with tissue guards); half-titles present, list of plates at end of each volume, uncut, two leaves of letterpress with marginal closed-tears, occasional minor foxing; contemporary French half red morocco-grain roan, spines lettered in gilt, dark slate-green pebble-grain cloth, bindings slightly rubbed; overall a very attractive copy.£125,000