We are delighted to present in this sale beautifully illustrated works of natural history, rare world maps, globes, extraordinary atlases, and fine colour-plate books. Leading the sale is a royal copy of the Description de l’Égyte, Napoleon’s monumental work on Egypt, from the library of Louis Philippe, duc d’Orleans, King of the French, and housed in a splendid custom-made library cabinet (lot 141). Another magnificent plate book is a deluxe issue of David Robert’s Holy Land, Syria, Idumea and Arabia, with the plates finely coloured by hand and mounted on card (lot 203). Other works relating to the Near and Middle-East include original drawings by Carol van de Velde and rare photographs, early film footage, and a boardgame on Mecca and the Hajj.
Cartographical highlights include a fine example of Blaeu’s Theatrum orbis terrarium (1640-54) with 392 hand-coloured maps bound in 5 volumes (lot 285); also, a splendid example of J. van Keulen’s sea atlas, De groote nieuwe vermeerderde Zee-Atlas (1685) with 40 fine hand-coloured maps (lot 296).
Among the great works of travel and exploration is a private collection of eighteenth and nineteenth-century voyages of discovery, including a handsome set of Captain Cook’s voyages from the library of John Morritt (lot 263), and Darwin’s first published book, the official account of voyage of the Beagle (lot 267). Photographic highlights include Charles Hose’s own copy of his photographs of Sarawak (lot 230) and a portfolio of 55 photographs of Jewish and Arab-Berber portraits taken in Morocco by Jean Besancenot (lot 181).
Highlights of natural history include Jakob Trew’s magnificent flower book, the Hortus nitidissimis (1750-72) with 142 hand-coloured plates, from the library at Spetchley Park. From the same library is the largest and finest work on the flora of the kingdom of Naples, the Flora Napolitana (1811-38) by Michele Tenore (lot 341).
'Captain Cook's three great voyages form the basis for any collection of Pacific books. In three great voyages Cook did more to clarify the geographical knowledge of the southern hemisphere than all his predecessors together had done. He was the first really scientific navigator, and his voyages made great contributions to many fields of knowledge' (Hill). This year it is 250 years since Captain Cook reached the shores of Australia.
Fantastic Flower Books
Art and science combine in the most wonderful way in the field of botanical illustration. The books on offer here are not only important works of botanical scholarship; they are also stunningly beautiful.
The earliest book in this selection of highlights, Christoph Jakob Trew’s Hortus nitidissimis, perhaps represents the art of botany at its most spectacular. Only the most floriferous plants are included: roses, tulips, lilies and so on, rendered in exquisite hand-colour. Regional floras have always been of value to botanical science. Tenore’s Flora Napolitana concerns plants found around Naples, and was commissioned by Ferndinand I, King of the Two Sicilies. Further afield, Illustrations of Himalayan Plants records the work of J.D. Hooker, arguably the founder of geographical botany, an intrepid plant hunter and director of Kew Gardens. Pancrace Bessa’s charming work on garden flowers is a more genteel proposition. Bessa boasted of the Duchesse du Berry as a patron and Pierre-Joseph Redouté as a friend. He was at the heart of the French tradition of botanical art being at the heart of civilized society.
The World in Miniature
Throughout history globes have played an important role in geographical edification. This sale offers an interesting range of globes being miniature, table, pocket and puzzle.
The World in Photographs
William Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre announced their photographic processes to the world in 1839. Since then photography has continued to fascinate and enthral viewers. It is a window to the past, whether in the form of art, experimentation, communication, or education.
This sale offers a pristine selection of photographs and prints of Mecca, Medina and the Hajj. There are images of Mecca with prayers around the Kabah, the Jannat al-Mu'alla, the Mahmal with pilgrims, pilgrims' tents at Arafat, the Ak-Khayf mosque at Mina, and views of the city of Medina and the Prophet's mosque. Also offered is a photograph by Abd al-Ghaffar, the earliest known photographer from Mecca and the first resident to photograph the holy city.