Large oblong folio (450 x 590 mm.), recent cloth portfolio (extremities lightly rubbed). With letterpress title (verso blank) and 4 leaves of letterpress text, each describing 3 plates on recto only, 12 hand-coloured aquatint plates on thick paper after Samuel Daniell by William Daniell, text leaves irregularly cut, with faint central folds, clean and fresh, the paper of the plates evenly browned and slightly brittle, 60 mm. marginal tear to plate 1, a couple of other plates with shorter marginal tears and tiny chips, some of which been repaired, otherwise in good condition.
A complete copy of one of Samuel Daniell’s major works and likely a parts issue. Samuel Daniell (1775-1811) was the younger brother of William and nephew of Thomas Daniell, a noted family of artists. His father was the innkeeper of the Swan at Chertsey, Surrey, where he was born and raised. He trained as an artist under Thomas Medland at the East India College in Hertford. Unable to make his work pay, he left England for the Cape of Good Hope in 1799 and was sent on an official trip as an artist from the Cape of Good Hope to Bechuanaland. Returning to England he began to work on his drawings for publication of African Scenery and Animals, 1804-05.
Leaving England for a second time for similar reasons he was drawn to the island of Ceylon arriving in Galle in August 1805. This time he was able to ingratiate himself with the new governor Sir Thomas Maitland. He was appointed Secretary to the Board of Revenue and Commerce and later given a special appointment as Ranger of Woods and Forests. This gave Daniell the opportunity to explore the island and make numerous drawings. Many of these were sent home to his brother to be engraved for this work. Daniell remained in Ceylon until his untimely death after being struck down by illness in 1811, aged just 36.
Thomas Sutton authored a work on the Daniell family and describes his work in Southern Africa and Ceylon as being ‘of such clarity and outstanding merit that they are sufficient to give a good idea of what Samuel might have achieved had he enjoyed a longer life. In these works he shows full control over his medium; his freshness of approach is apparent; his composition and colour are full of beauty; his animals delicately drawn… As an artist he was certainly the most inspired and original of the three relatives’. The present copy has text printed on paper with watermark dates conforming to those given in Abbey, but the plates are printed on thick unwatermarked paper. This manifestation of the plates in not mentioned in the bibliographical literature, but copies with plates on thick paper have previously appeared on the market (e.g. Christie’s Arts of India Sale 6807, 24 Sept 2003 lot 55).
Many of Daniell’s original works survive in various collections, most notably three albums in the Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, in the Fehr collection in Cape Town, and in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, London. ‘His animal studies are both accurate and original, his landscapes reveal an empathy with wild places, and his figure studies are lively and sympathetic. His worked-up watercolours, with their sense of colour, clarity of light, and animated figures, suggest that the artist was at the forefront of the artistic developments at the beginning of the nineteenth century’ (ODNB). Abbey Travel II, 410; De Silva Early Prints of Ceylon pp. 2-23; Nissen ZBI 1036; ODNB; see Thomas Sutton (1954) ‘The Daniells, Artists and Travellers’; Tooley 170.