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Edouard Travies (1809-1865)

Les Oiseaux Les Plus Remarkables Par Leurs Formes et Leurs Couleurs. Scenes variees de leurs moeurs & de leurs habitudes.
Paris: Ledot aine (or Berrieux) and London: E. Gambert & Co. (or Victor Delarue), ca. 1857
Lithographs with original hand-coloring.
Travies' artistry represents a pinnacle in French ornithological illustration. Natural history, as a descriptive pursuit bent on identifying new species, demanded detailed illustrations. The minute precision of Traviès' work places him with the best of France's scientific artists. Traviès was born in Doullens, in the Somme district of France, in March 1809, the younger brother of the caricaturist Charles Joseph Traviès de Villier (1804-1859). Throughout his career he concentrated on natural history subjects, both in watercolor (he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon between 1831 and 1866) and lithography. Unlike a number of his contemporaries, he was an artist both with the brush and on stone. The majority of the illustrations show species of birds native to Europe, but some plates are birds native to America, Africa, Australia, Asia and the Pacific region. All show the birds in association with flowering plants indigenous to their habitats, such as orchids, passion flowers and varieties of eucalyptus. Traviès' original watercolors were reproduced as both engravings and lithographs, which are considered among the best portraits of birds ever painted. The artist rendered the backgrounds fully, incorporating foliage, flowers, butterflies, as well as the birds themselves, all with considerable charm.