The prints achieve the appearance of watercolors through the use of stipple engraving, process that the great French botanical artist of this period, Pierre-Joseph Redouté helped refine. Through a method Redouté largely invented in 1796, the colors were applied to the engraved plate a la poupée before each printing, the finished by hand, creating “all the softness and brilliance of a watercolor,” as Redouté noted about his own botanicals. This technique was similarly developed in the same period by Audebert and used effectively for this monograph on monkeys, for which he acted as artist and engraver. Accordingly, in these fine prints, Audebert achieved the portrayal of lifelike luminosity, sheen and dimensionality in the monkeys’ faces and fur.
Audebert, a painter by training, was born in Rochefort, France. After receiving a commission to help with the preparation of the plates for Guillaume Antoine Olivier’s Entomologie (Paris: 1789-1808), he also began producing natural history prints. Histoire Naturelle des Singes was published in 10 parts between 1797 and 1800 and sold by subscription, the only publication of Audebert’s work to be completed during his life-time. Other natural history print collections by Audebert include Oiseaux Dorés.
According to scholar S. Peter Dance:
The tradition embodied in the brilliant dynasty of miniaturists… gave zoological art in France an overall uniformity and distinction that was not equaled elsewhere. The illustrations in books such as the Histoire Naturelle des Singes et des Makis by J.B. Audebert had few serious rivals outside France in the early years of the nineteenth century.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Disbound edges, incomplete platemarks, as issued.
“Audebert.” The 1911 Encyclopedia. http://52.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AU/AUDE.htm (23 January 2004).
Brunet, J-Ch. Manuel du Libraire et de L’amateur de Livres. 5th ed. Paris: Firmin Didot Frères et cie, 1860-65. 550.
Dance, S. Peter. The Art of Natural Animal History Illustrators and Their Work. New York: Overlook Press, 1990.
“Karl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus) and His Names for Primates.” http://members.aol.com/darwinpage/zoo/linnaeus.htm (23 January 2004).
Nissen, Claus. Die Zoologische Buchillustration: ihre Bibliographie und Geschichte. Stuttgart: 1969-78. 156.
Wood, Casey A. (ed.) An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology Based Chiefly on the Titles in the Blacker Library of Zoology, the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology, the Bibliotheca Osleriana, and Other Libraries of McGill University, Montreal. London: Humphry Milford, Oxford University Press, 1931. p. 206.