BLOCH, Marcus Elieser (1723-1799)

ICHTHYOLOGIE ou HISTOIRE NATURELLE, générale et particulière des POISSONS. Avec des figures enluminées, dessinées d'après nature.

Berlin chez l’Auteur & chez Francois de la Garde, dedication by the author to the Queen of France (1784), première partie: (1785), seconde partie (1785), troisième partie (1786) et puis Berlin, Paris et Londres, chez l’Auteur & chez de la Garde, chez Didot et chez White, quatrième partie (1787), cinquième partie (1787), sixième et dernière partie (1788). With six engraved title-vignettes and 216 hand-coloured copper engraved plates by Berger, Bodenehr, Darchow, Haas, Henning, Schmidt and other artists.
Parts 1-6 of 12 in 3 volumes. Large folio (mm 460x270). Pp. [16], 206, [2]; [4], 170, [2]; [4], 160, [2]; [4], 134, [2]; [4], 130, [2]; [4], VIII, 150, [2]. Contemporary red morocco, covers gilt-ruled with decorative corner-pieces, floral gilt devices at spine, titles on green morocco labels, gilt edges.

A very fine and complete copy of the rare first issue (1785-1788) of the first French folio edition, published almost contemporaneously with the first German edition. A mini format of Bloch's French folio edition was  published a few years later.

Marcus Elieser Bloch was a surgeon in Berlin. It was not until 1780 that he began to work with fishes from Germany and abroad. The present publication (1784-1788), resulting from many observations by himself and illustrated under his supervision, contains good descriptions and faithful water-colours. The species the author collected either in dried or preservative state are often well drawn and well described, except for the colours which change after death of the fish. Bloch had very little knowledge of foreign marine species like Mediteranean fishes which is not surprising for a scientist who lived in an unfavorable land-locked area. Some illustrations of Mediteranean species - like the flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans) - are very unrealistic and executed in a " composite-like image style". Illustrations in the works of the leading Renaissance ichtyologists Belon (1553), Rondelet (!554), Salviani (1554-1558) and Gessner (1558), possibly commissioned or acquired by Bloch from donors, can highlight how Bloch constructed his fish models. His flying gurnard for instance appears to be a composite image based on elements from uncoloured illustrations made by the draughtsmen of his Renaissance predecessors. Bloch's creation of the flying gurnard was coloured by his artists afterwards. Some debate is going on whether the heightening in gold, silver and bronze in Bloch's plates - to reproduce the glistering sheen of wet fish scales - is present or not. Only spectrophotometric analysis of colour pigments could give an answer to the question if metals like copper, silver and gold have been used by Bloch's artists. Copyright: 2015 Sophia Hendrikx, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior permission of the author.

Price: Sold

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