Deseve "Calcedoine en Prismes/ Coupe de la Même Pierre." Tom. II; p. 166. From Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle Générale et Particuliere.
Paris: Crapelet, 1798-1800. Duodecimo. Engraving by Le Villain. Superb original hand color. Very good condition.
An example from a group of delightful animal prints from the work of one of the most important naturalists of all time. The Comte de Buffon (1707-88), was an amazingly talented man, whose studies ranged through mathematics, astronomy, and all the sciences. His theories, including his argument that New World species were inferior, were often controversial. His name was legendary in this vital period of natural history: he was to France what Linnaeus was to Sweden. The memorable images in this series were part of a prodigious undertaking, in which the Count (who was then keeper of the Jardin du Roi, precursor of the Paris Zoo) set out to describe the whole animal kingdom. Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle was issued in many editions; this set, though very small, was one of the finest in quality. These prints were issued during the French Revolution (Ans VII-IX), and for quality, charm and the immensity of the undertaking, they are a fitting testimony to the 18th-century passion for natural history.