DONOVAN, Edward. The Natural History of British Fishes, including scientific and general descriptions of the most interesting species, and an extensive selection of accurately finished coloured plates. Taken entirely from original drawings, purposely made from the specimens in a recent state, and for the most part whilst living.

 London, F. C. and J. Rivington, 1802-8.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, 4 volumes (out of 5) bound in two, 96 out of 120 total illustrations. Some occasional light spotting throughout Vol. 1 and 2; plate 30 browned, not affecting the engraving. Bound in half calf and marbled paper over boards. Gilt spine in 6 compartments. Compartment at foot with emblem of a rampant lion holding a globe between its paws. Red and green morocco labels with author, title and volume number. Tender joints, rubbing on hinges and along cover edges. Red sprinkled fore-edge. “The paint is laid on so thickly that it is frequently impossible to see the engraved lines underneath. The already rich colouring is heightened by the addition of burnished highlights, albumen overglazes and metallic paints to give an overall effect reminiscent of the work of a miniaturist. Surprisingly, these techniques were often combined to produce a very pleasing and delicate effect: the multiple ruses of the colourist triumph over the draughtsman’s numerous failures. Donovan overreached himself and died penniless.” (Dance, ‘Art of natural History’ p. 87). Edward Donovan (1768-1837) was a naturalist and the author of a number of important natural history works which stand out for their perfection of execution. He was a Fellow of the Linnaean Society and the Wernerian Natural History Society.

Nissen No. 1141; Dean I, 330.