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Beautiful watercolour and gouache paintings of birds,
together in a magnificent 1784 binding from the famous "First Stadholder Bindery" in The Hague

Konst tekeningen. [Detailed illustrations of birds].
[The Netherlands], binding dated 1784. Large folio (52 x 33.5 cm). With 18 large, beautifully hand-drawn and coloured illustrations of birds.Contemporary richly gold-tooled red morocco over boards, sewn on 8 supports, each board with a round, gold-tooled, green morocco inlaid centre piece, gold-tooled board edges, 2 pairs of green cloth ties, gilt edges, and block-printed paste-paper endpapers in red and yellow. The spine is also richly gold-tooled with 2 different rolls to frame the compartments and underline the leaf and flower stamps. The front and back boards match, except for the gold lettering: on the front board "konst tekeningen" and on the back board "anno 1784". The tooling shows 4 different rolls, used for multiple frames, and numerous stamps of leaves, flowers, vases, birds and other decorative elements. 90 ll.
€ 28,000
Splendidly bound drawing book containing 18 unsigned, detailed, watercolour and gouache drawings of birds. The colourful birds appear to be drawn after the plates in Edward Donovan's The natural history of British birds, first published in instalments between 1794 and 1819. If so, the present drawings must have been added to the drawing book at least 10 years after it was bound.
The blank drawing-book was bound, according to the gold lettering on the back board, in 1784, and the tools identify it as the work of the most important and arguably the best bindery in the 18th-century Netherlands, dubbed the First Stadholder Bindery by Storm van Leeuwen. Since the names of the binders remain unknown, the name now used alludes to the fact that it produced many bindings by order of the Stadholder Willem V and presumably his father Willem IV. Its great importance rests on the number of its surviving bindings, the diversity of the work it produced, the quality of the tooling, the exceptionally large number of binding tools it must have owned and the length of time it must have been operating, from at least 1722 to 1793 (Storm van Leeuwen). The paper is laid, with no watermark, and appears to be quite consistent.
Occasional, minor foxing, but otherwise internally fine and clean. The binding shows only slight signs of wear, so both the album and the binding are in very good condition. A sumptuously bound album of attractive illustrations of British birds. For the binding: Jan Storm van Leeuwen, Bookbinding 18th century IIA, pp. 67-101; for images of the rolls etc.: Jan Storm van Leeuwen, De achttiende-eeuwse Haagse boekband, pp. 388-395.
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Related Subjects:

Art, architecture & photography  >  Drawings, Prints & Watercolours
Book history, education, learning & printing  >  Bindings
Natural history  >  Birds / Ornithology | Drawings, Prints & Watercolours