Malm, Auguste Wilhelm | An inadvertent photographic work of art on whaling, and the only stuffed blue whale in the world

Lot Closed

December 9, 08:29 PM GMT


20,000 - 30,000 USD

Lot Details


Malm, Auguste Wilhelm

Monographie Illustrée du Baleinoptère trouvé le 29 Octobre 1865 sur la Côte Occidentale de Suède. Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt et Fils, Imprimeurs de Roi, 1867

Folio (415 x 280 mm). Half-title, title-page, 29 albumen photographs mounted onto 18 sheets, 2 lithographed plates, engraved illustrations throughout; minor foxing to the text and first two albumen photographs, a few mounts partially detached. Publisher's blue cloth, covers elaborately blocked in blind, upper cover titled in gilt, spine lettered in gilt; rubbed and worn. [With:] Illustrerad Tidning, no. 26. Stockholm, 30 June 1866. 4 unnumbered pages on one folio leaf (445 x 300 mm), text in three columns, a few text illustrations; folded, stray spots, small tears. [And with:] Malm, A[uguste] W[ilhelm]. Några Blad om Hvaldjur i Allmänhet och Balaenoptera Carolinae. Goteborg: Handelstidningens Bolags Tryckeri, 1866. 20pp. Publisher's yellow and red illustrated wrappers; disbound, tear along spine.

A rare photographically illustrated monograph on the blue whale and an inadvertent photographic work of art.

In 1865, a 16-meter blue whale beached outside the town of Näset, south of Gothenburg. This rare work documents and photographically illustrates the whale being brought onto land, its scientific measurements being taken, and its elaborate dissection. Malm, curator at the Göteborg Museum of Natural History, with great difficulty, transformed this whale into the renowned Malmska valen—the only stuffed blue whale in the world, still on view today.

The ten photographs depict the whale on the dock at Lindholmen after it was brought in, towed by three steamers and two coal barges. The following 16 plates show various dissections, each carefully labelled and identified. The final image is a photograph of a model created by Malm. The photographs were likely taken by J. P. Peterson, Göteborgs Musei Fotografiska Atelier. While all are ostensibly scientific and documentarian in nature they are also aesthetically powerful, with the photographs being rendered with a keen eye for composition and respect for their subject.

Malm's monograph is very rare, this copy being one of only fifty copies produced, the only other example we have been able to trace on the market being in the Barbara Johnson Whaling Collection, selling in 1996. The additional supplementary material constitute a pamphlet on the Malmska valen from the Göteborg Museum of Natural History and an early article about the same.

(See lot 1016.)