A Series of Watercolours by Edouard Traviès

Monday 1 March - Monday 15 March 2021

Fourteen Watercolours of Exotic Birds

6 Mason's Yard
SW1Y 6BU London
United Kingdom

Among the finest natural history draughtsmen of the 19th century in France, Edouard Traviès de Villers was a gifted watercolourist and illustrator, as well as a lithographer. He exhibited at the Paris Salons between 1831 and 1866. Best known for his ornithological watercolours, which are regarded as among the finest of the 19th century, his activity in this field culminated in seventy-nine magnificent illustrations for his book Les oiseaux les plus remarquables par leurs forms et leurs couleurs, Scènes variées de leurs moeurs & leurs habituides. Etudes à l’aquarelle, published simultaneously in Paris and London in 1857. (The book was reprinted, in a smaller format, in 1990.) Traviès also produced watercolours of other types of animals, and illustrated other works of natural history, such as Types du règne animal: Buffon en estampes; a work intended for children that appeared in 1864. Traviès was further known for his paintings and watercolours of dead game, depicted hanging from a nail on a wall in a sort of trompe-l’oeil effect; indeed, he was one of the first 19th century French artists to develop this theme, which had been established in the previous century by such artists as Jean-Baptiste Oudry. Although many of Traviès’s watercolours have been reproduced as lithographs or in ornithological books, his works have never been completely catalogued.

These fourteen watercolours by Edouard Traviès were once part of the exceptional collection of French ornithological watercolours of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries assembled in the 1920s and 1930s by the French industrialist and bibliophile Marcel Jeanson (1885-1942). Several of these watercolours by Traviès were used to illustrate Achille Richard’s Oeuvres complètes de Buffon, published in Paris in 1834, 1838 and 1845.

Works are available to be viewed in the gallery by appointment.

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