BERLÈSE, abbé Laurent Bernard

Iconographie du genre Camellia ou Description et figures des camellia les plus beaux et les plus rares peints d’après nature...

H. Cousin
Size : 37 x 28 cm
Reference : 656

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3 volumes folio (37x28cm), contemporary dark green half-roan binding, spine with 5 ornamented bands. (Spines slightly faded, spines, corners and edges rubbed. Scattered spotting, 5 plates browned, tear to plate 239, marginal restoration to 2 leaves of text).

Volume I: Title, 1f, IV ff. 100pl. 100ff, 2ff (alphabetical table and table of contents). Volume II: False-title, title, 100pp, 100ff, 3ff (alphabetical table and table of contents). Volume III: False title, title, 100pp, 100ff, 4ff (alphabetical table and table of contents).

A very fine work devoted to camellias, decorated with 300 copperplates printed in colour and enhanced by hand with Arabic gum.

Abbé Laurent Berlèse (1784-1863), an Italian priest who settled in Paris as a chaplain, became fascinated by camellias and became one of their best connoisseurs by cultivating and studying them in the greenhouses he had built; these greenhouses contained up to 850 different species of camellia. As early as 1837, in order to avoid confusion in the nomenclature of the camellia, Berlèse published a Monography of the genus, the success of which convinced him to work on an iconography of the same kind. He published it by subscription, with great care taken to ensure the quality of the edition. Thus, for the illustration of the three volumes that make it up, he called upon the painter Johann-Jacob Jung, whose drawings, very finely engraved with a burin on copper by Duménil, Gabriel and Oudet, bear witness to Redouté's influence on the botanical representations of this period. But, as he stated in his foreword to the members of the Royal Horticultural Society of Paris, "a painter and an editor alone could not make a work of this nature interesting and useful. First of all, the scientific part had to be treated conscientiously and lucidly; [it] had to be made accessible to all abilities [...] I have classified in it all the important observations that the special study of thirty years had revealed to me on the vegetation, flowering, fruiting, habits, diseases, in a word, on the entire culture of this beautiful plant.

BERLÈSE, abbé Laurent Bernard