Paris: L. E. Herhan for Delachaussie et Garnery, 1805. Folio (506 x 332 mm). Half-title. Title with stipple-engraved vignette, 65 stipple-engraved plates by Bouquet, Jacques Chailly, Mlle. Delelo and others, after Redouté, printed in colors by Langlois. Contemporary marbled calf gilt, spine with red and tan morocco lettering-pieces gilt. Some light wear at extremities; some mostly marginal and pale spotting. Provenance: Starrenstein (bookplate); purchased from Biblion, 1969. From the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow. Item #401779
FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION, FIRST STATE, before the plates were titled and with plate 54 misnumbered 62. The plates are of flowers, fruits, bulbs, leaves, etc. of flowering plants and trees, some showing whole plants and others showing details, sometimes cut to reveal anatomical details. The book was issued in 1805 in both folio and quarto format. It is not surprising that this folio edition best reflects Redouté’s superb botanical art. John Ruskin was one of many admirers of the work, and in 1878 wrote to his bookseller, F. S. Ellis: "Please at once set your Paris agents to look out for all copies that come up, at any sale, of Rousseau's Botanique with coloured plates, 1805 – and buy all they can get."
Rousseau's letters on botany were written from 1771 to 1773, but were not published in his lifetime. They first appeared in his Oeuvres in 1782. Exiled amongst the natural beauties of Switzerland in 1763 or 1764, Rousseau developed his interest in botany, and made various collections of plant specimens or herbaria. See Lawrence Redouteana 15. Cleveland Collections 698; Dunthorne 252; Great Flower Books, p. 134; Nissen BBI 1688; Pritzel 7824; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 9688.