This scarce original antique print is showing an Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) seen from the side near a pond in a savanna-like landscape. The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), also called the Indian rhino, greater one-horned rhinoceros or great Indian rhinoceros, is a rhinoceros species native to the Indian subcontinent. Indian rhinos once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, but excessive hunting and agricultural development reduced its range drastically to 11 sites in northern India and southern Nepal. In the early 1990s, between 1,870 and 1,895 Indian rhinos were estimated to have been alive.
Lithograph with original delicate hand coloring entitled: Rhinocéros des Indes (Rhinoceros indicus, Lin.)
Published in the year 1849 by the famous Charles d'Orbigny, in 'Dictionnaire Universel D’histoire Naturelle ATLAS' (Universal Natural History Dictionary ATLAS), one of the most celebrated works on Natural History from the 19th century.
Charles d'Orbigny (1802 – 1857) was a French naturalist who made major contributions in many areas, including zoology (including malacology), paleontology, geology, archaeology and anthropology. D'Orbigny was born in Couëron (Loire-Atlantique), the son of a ship's physician and amateur naturalist. The family moved to La Rochelle in 1820, where his interest in natural history was developed while studying the marine fauna and especially the microscopic creatures that he named "foraminiferans".
In Paris he became a disciple of the geologist Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier (1777–1861) and Georges Cuvier. All his life, he would follow the theory of Cuvier and stay opposed to Lamarckism. (The notion that an organism can pass on to its offspring physical characteristics that the parent organism acquired through use or disuse during its lifetime. It is also called the inheritance of acquired characteristics or more recently soft inheritance. The idea is named after the French zoologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck)
D'Orbigny traveled on a mission for the Paris Museum, in South America between 1826 and 1833. He visited Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, and returned to France with an enormous collection of more than 10,000 natural history specimens.
His contemporary, Charles Darwin, arrived in South America in 1832, and on hearing that he had been preceded, grumbled that D'Orbigny had probably collected "the cream of all the good things'. Darwin later called D'Orbigny's Voyage a "most important work". They went on to correspond, with D'Orbigny describing some of Darwin's specimens.
D'Orbigny died in 1857 in the small town of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, near Paris.