Le Paradisier rouge, male from Histoire Naturelle Des Oiseaux De Paradis, the year 1835 by Réné Primevere Lesson, Paul Louis Oudart and Jean Gabriel Prêtre.

Red Bird of Paradise, Le Paradisier rouge Oiseaux De Paradis, Year 1835, Réné Primevere Lesson

A rare complete set of two antique prints showing in great detail the famous Red bird-of-paradise, male and female adult. Published in Paris France in the year 1835 (first edition) in "Histoire Naturelle Des Oiseaux De Paradis" (Natural History Of Birds Of Paradise), the first and most comprehensive work on birds of paradise entitled until John Gould's great monograph started appearing 20 years later. By René Primevère LESSON (1794-1849), a surgeon, pharmacist, naturalist on the round-the-world scientific voyage of the corvette La Coquille (1822-1825), led by Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont D'URVILLE (1790-1842) and Louis-Isidore DUPERREY (1786-1865).

The red bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra, also cendrawasih merah), is a bird-of-paradise in the genus Paradisaea, family Paradisaeidae. Large, up to 33 cm long, brown and yellow with a dark brown iris, grey legs and yellow bill. The male has an emerald green face, a pair of elongated black corkscrew-shaped tail wires, dark green feather pompoms above each eye and a train of glossy crimson red plumes with whitish tips at either side of the breast. The male measures up to 72 cm long, including the ornamental red plumes that require at least six years to fully attain. The female is similar but smaller in size, with a dark brown face and has no ornamental red plumes. The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods. An Indonesian endemic, the red bird-of-paradise is distributed to lowland rainforests of Waigeo and Batanta islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua.

LESSON studied these birds in their natural habitat during the expedition and was the first European to observe birds of paradise alive in the wild and was the first to describe a Bird of Paradise in flight when the voyage visited New Guinea in 1824. He brought back numerous specimens from the Australia, Moluccas and New Guinea. The voyage concentrated on the exploration of the Pacific Ocean, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, Polynesia and South America. His classic monograph on these birds includes a synopsis of species with descriptions and synonymies and a treatment of each, at least 4 of which were new to European science.

A hand-finished engraved plate, heightened with gum arabic by Paul Louis OUDART (1796-1860) and Jean Gabriel PRÊTRE (1768-1849). Each illustration is numbered and signed by the illustrators. Like Redouté, OUDART was a pupil of the celebrated Dutch master Gerard van Spaendonck, and 'one of the outstanding French illustrators and bird painters' (Jackson op. cit p.382). He began exhibiting ornithological paintings at the Salon in 1819. PRÊTRE, worked at Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and provided the plates for many of the important French natural history works published in the first half of the 19th century: as Anker notes, 'these works were illustrated in accordance with the highest requirements of the time by artists such as J.G. Prêtre'.

Colour-printed engraving with hand-colouring, this print effortlessly captures the exotic beauty of one of the most spectacular of all Birds of Paradise. These almost 200 year old prints are much sought after by collectors of these amazing birds and very suitable for framing. 

René Primevère Lesson
Red Bird of Paradise, Le Paradisier rouge Oiseaux De Paradis, Year 1835, Réné Primevere Lesson (set of 2)
Publication Place / Date
Image Dimensions
Paris / 1835 ( First Edition )
24 by 16 cm
Hand Colouring
VG / Study images carefully.
Product Price
Product Number
USD 1,150
SKU #P.1915