Oblong 4to., ll. 67 of plates with letterpress title-page; date erased, one or two other instances causing very small holes; light foxing and spotting to some plates, more accentuated to rear, otherwise an excellent copy in recent mottled calf, very lightly rubbed, boards gilt with roll borders and floriate tools to corners, spine gilt in panels with raised bands, morocco lettering-piece, edges and turn-ins gilt; all edges gilt; marbled endpapers, some discolouring at edges; small hieroglyphic bookplate.
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Barlow’s Birds and Beasts in sixty-seven excellent and useful Prints, being a Collection of the chief Works of that eminent Master; and engraved by Himself, Hollar, Place, &c. All drawn from the Life, shewing in their natural and peculiar Attitudes a vast Variety of Birds, Fowls and Beasts. London, Printed for, and sold by, Carington Bowles. [Price half a Guinea sewed]. .
An extremely rare edition of this drawing-book collecting several wonderful suites of plates by or after Francis Barlow, with a particularly fine suite of etchings by Wenceslaus Hollar.
Barlow (1626-c.1704) was famed in his own day for his depictions of nature, though his reputation has suffered since, probably because he left no recognisable ‘school’ behind him. In his lifetime he attracted the attention of Pepys, that ‘ardent connoisseur’ of English art, and Evelyn records visiting Barlow ‘the famous paynter of fowle beasts and birds’ in his diary for 16 February 1656, though later he denied Barlow’s requests for patronage. Barlow’s works are advertised in the Bowles catalogue under ‘drawing books’, thus serving functional purpose as part of a long-established tradition of pattern books. These were designed for journeyman artists and artisans, including engravers, goldsmiths, sculptors, embroiderers and ceramicists, providing them with examples of species both mundane and quite exotic, faithfully copied from the life. The third series, Animals of various Species accurately drawn, sees two instances of Barlow doing his own etching, for which he was often apologetic, after paintings by the Dutch Old Masters Roelandt Savery and Frans Snyders.
This edition is a reissue of an earlier edition of sixty-seven plates published c. 1760 (ESTC three copies, at Oxford, McMaster and Illinois, the latter wanting the final leaf) also by Carington Bowles but under the aegis of his father, as ‘John Bowles and Son’, alongside his uncle Thomas, and Robert Sayer. Most of the plates collected here would have been in Sayer’s possession (the second suite, Diversum avium species, has been partially erased and re-engraved with his name alone) through his connection with the Overton family, for whom he worked as general manager and into which his brother James had married in 1747; his father-in-law John Overton had published certain of Barlow’s works in the artist’s lifetime, likewise etched by Hollar, including an edition of Diversae avium species issued in 1666. The general engraved title-page, which had previously been used by John Bowles for the first suite of plates, Various Birds and Beasts (listed in his catalogue of 1753 as ‘eight large plates’), is taken from a series originally published in 1686 by Edward Cooper, entitled Illustrissimo heroi Richardo Domino Maitland for its dedicatee. It has been partially erased and re-engraved here to reflect the new commercial partnership of Carington and John Bowles (now at separate addresses) and Robert Sayer.
ESTC records 3 copies only of this edition, at the Natural History Museum, London, University of Kansas and Yale.
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