Barraband, Jacques


Jacques Barraband (1767-1809)
From: Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux des Paradis et des Rolliers
Paris: 1801-1806
Hand-colored copperplate engravings
26” x 33” framed

Jacques Barraband’s engravings of birds are masterpieces of French ornithological illustration. These stunning portraits were done for the distinguished ornithologist Francois Levaillant, who commissioned the artist to illustrate his landmark works on exotic birds, including the lavish and striking Histoire Naturelle des Oiseauz des Paradis et des Rolliers. The collaboration of Levaillant and Barraband represented a departure from previous ornithological texts in its emphasis on beauty and luxury, with sumptuously colored and flawlessly rendered birds. Apart from their undoubted beauty, Barraband’s engravings display a scientific accuracy that few ornithological artists have matched since. The meticulous hand-colored engravings in Levaillants publications were unmatched for the delicate modulations of tone and color, fine lines and perfect draftsmanship, making them exceptional in their richness and tonal variation. Each feather is described by dozens of parallel lines, providing remarkable detail and naturalistically textured color. Some of the prints are embellished with touches of gold leaf on the feathers of the cheeks and shoulders of the birds, emphasizing the preciouness of the plates and reproducing the iridescence of the birds’ feathers. The present selection of images represents an opportunity to acquire spectacular engravings by a foremost 19th-century natural history artist.