This month’s list opens with a truly amazing section featuring original illustrations of the ruins Angkor Wat ruins, prints from the first edition of Levaillant’s Histoire naturelle des Oiseaux d’Afrique, early chromolithographs displaying British plants, and Lavater’s mug shots of ‘types’ ranging from scoundrels to saints.
Pierre Jeannerat de Beerski travelled extensively in the French colonial empire, as his sketches reveal. His books include Flying to 3000 B.C., a journey in pursuit of the archaeological treasures of Egypt and the Middle East, and Angkor Ruins in Cambodia, published by Grant Richards in 1923. We are offering several of the original pictures drawn by Jeannerat, including the most important ones from Angkor Ruins. These are A Corner of Ta Prohm (Figure 31), The Buddha of Tep Pranam (Figure 30), and An Inner Court, Bayon (Figure 21). The last-mentioned serves as the front-page illustration for our list, and provides a sobering reminder of the dangers of planting a tree with an invasive root system close to any building! We also offer General View, Bayon, which is similarly impressive, though not featured in the published book, plus a number of other Jeannerat works, both originals and limited-edition prints.
Levaillant has received a mixed press over the years, largely because some of his natural history specimens seem to be fabrications. Take, for instance, item 39 in our list, in which a Penduline Tit’s nest is ascribed to some sort of cisticola! The flamboyant artist-naturalist has, however, had something of a rehabilitation in recent times, and there is no denying the art in his finely-executed works. There is a magic about handling and displaying beautiful prints produced at the time of the French Revolution. The papers from that era are of remarkable quality, perhaps because of a high hemp content, and show practically no deterioration in well over two hundred years. Please ask if you would like to see a higher-resolution image of any print that interests you: the little thumbnails in our list don’t do the originals justice. These pictures seldom come onto the market, and you will want to catch them at these prices while you can. There could hardly be better prints to adorn the walls of any Africana library.
According to Understanding and Identifying Prints, by Ronald Russell, George Baxter was responsible for developing a successful means of printing colour: “The image was incised on a steel plate and several wood or copper blocks, each bearing a different colour derived from an oil-based ink, were then applied.” Baxter’s chromolithography made possible the production of works like Anne Pratt’s Flowering Plants and Ferns of Great Britain, with its excellent botanical plates. This title isseldom encountered with all seven volumes, and many catalogue descriptions appear to indicate that the set did not go beyond five books. The covers are in need of attention, but “don’t judge a book by its cover … ”
Judging a book by its cover seems to be the basic premise of John Caspar Lavater’s Essays on Physiognomy, in which rogues look like what they are, and virtuous people exude piety. If only it was that easy to judge character … We offer the three-volume work, which has just about managed to survive the past two hundred and twenty years.
Besides the opening section on Illustration, we also have several books in our usual fields. In Military History, look out for R. G. Hackett’s South African War Books, Kestell and Van Velden’s Die Vredesonderhandelinge, and a few fictional works based on experiences in the Bush Wars in which Zimbabweans and South Africans were embroiled. In South African History, take note of Het Nederduitsch Zuid-Afrikaansch Tydschrift and Denis Hurley’s Human Dignity and Race Relations. We feel sure there is something for you. Here is the link to the newsletter:
Lindsay and Wendy