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Natural History Art, Monkeys, Audebert, Antique Prints, c. 1800


Jean-Baptiste Audebert (1759-1800) (artist and engraver)
Finot (printer)
Monkey and Lemur Studies
from Histoire Naturelle des Singes et des Makis Peintres d’après Nature
[Natural History of the Monkeys and Lemurs Painted After Nature]

Jean-Baptiste Audebert and H. J. Jansen,
Paris: 1797 [-1800]
Color-printed stipple engravings, finished by hand
20.75 x 13.25 inches each
$575 each

Shown left are the following prints.  Most are available.  Please inquire as to current availability.

Le Papion / Simia Sphinx [Mandrillus sphinx, Mandrill]
Le Blanc-nez / Simia petaurista [Cercopithecus petaurista, Lesser White-Nosed Monkey]
L’Ascagne / Simia ascanius [Cercopithecus ascanius, Black-Cheeked White-nosed Monkey]
Le Maki à front blanc / Lemur Albifrons [Eulemur albifrons, White-fronted Lemur]
Le Saïmiri / Simia Sciurea [Saimiri sciureus, Squirrel Monkey]
L’Atys / Simia atys [Cercocebus atys, Sooty Mangabey]
Le Griset / Lemur Griseus [Hapalemur griseus, Grey Gentle Lemur]
Le Hocheur / Simia nictitans [Cercopithecus nictitans, White-nosed Guenon]
Le Mongous / Lemur Mongoz [Eulemur mongoz, Mongoose Lemur]
Le Tamarin / Simia Midas [Saguinas midas, Red-handed Tamarin]
Le Tarsier / [Tarsier]
Le Coaïta / Simia paniscus (Pl. 2) [ Ateles paniscus, Golden Lion Tamarin]
Le Galago / Galago Senegalensis [Lesser Bush Baby]
La Diane / Simia Diana (Pl. 6) [ Cercopithecus diana, Diana Monkey]
Le Moloch / Simia Moloch [Hylobates moloch, Javan Silvery Gibbon]
Le Patas à queue courte [Short-Tailed Patas Monkey]
Le Mangabey / Simia æthiops  [ Chlorocebus aethiops, Grivet or Savanna Monkey]
Le Marikina / Simia Rosalia (Pl. 3) [ Leontopithecus rosalia, Silky Monkey]

Series of studies of Old World and New World monkeys and lemurs. They have the refined style and high quality of the great ornithological and botanical natural history works produced in Paris at the turn of the 18th century. Each primate is shown either against a simple white background or on a tree limb, sometimes holding food or an object. Great attention is given to scientific accuracy, though as is typical with natural history monkey studies of this period, each animal seems to have its own personality.

Product Description Continues Below


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. (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.” (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.