Selection of prints of fruits, from the monumental fruit-tree horticultural study produced by the French botanist Henri Louis Duhamel Du Monceau. Botanical art scholar Gordon Dunthorne considered Traité des Arbres Fruitiers “one of the finest and rarest” sets of colorplate fruit prints. Many of the artists and engravers for this series of over 400 images were also associated with the great botanical works of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, during the golden age of French botanical illustration, including the printer, Langlois. The use of color-printed stipple engravings helped to artistically achieve the supple delicacy of the fruits and foliage. Among the fruits they display are almonds, peaches and apricots, plums and cherries, citrus fruit, grapes, strawberries and raspberries, other types of berry, pears and quinces, apples, nuts and figs.
Duhamel du Monceau was one of outstanding botanists and horticulturists of the 18th century, and among the most important French writers on fruit, plant physiology and agriculture. The full title of this series is Traité des arbres fruitiers nouvelle edition, augmentée d’un grand nombre d’espéces de fruits obtenus des progresses de la culture par A. Poiteau et P.J.F. Turpin. [Treatise on fruit trees new edition, expanded by a great number of fruit species obtained from the advances in culture by A. Poiteau and P.J.F. Turpin.] Botanical historian F.A. Stafleu calls this a virtually independent work by Poiteau and Turpin, though conceived of as an act of homage to Duhamel du Monceau and his Traité of 1768. As the author-artists declare in their joint preface, “il nous a été facile d’ameliorer le champ que le savant Duhamel a si habilement défriché.” That is, Duhamel’s groundbreaking work made it easy for them to build upon it. While their aim was to establish a reliable and generally accepted nomenclature for fruits by means of the plates and descriptive text, they also wished to address other issues such as propagation, size, beauty and taste. The six volumes were published in 72 parts, each part generally with 6 prints. The plates were to be used again by Poiteau in his Pomologie Française (Paris 1846), but with Turpin’s name removed.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Some faint scattered minor foxing, unobtrusive.
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Nissen, Claus. Die Botanische Buchillustration: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart:1951-66. 551.
Pritzel, Georg August. Thesaurus Literaturae Botanicae Omnium Gentium. Milan: 1950. 2467.
Sitwell, Sacheverell. Great Flower Books, 1700-1900. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990. p. 55.
Stafleu, Frans A. and Richard S.Cowan. Taxonomic Literature. Utrecht: 1967. 2nd ed., Utrecht: 1976-1988. I, 1548.