Courte Description des Quadrupèdes. 1843
Manuscript in Ink. 4to (280 x 220 mm), pp. [ii], , written in a neat hand in brown ink within single ink ruled border, an elaborate pen and ink wash drawing to the title-page, 11 further ink drawings of animals framed in yellow borders within brown and black ink rules, some of the inked borders bleeding through the paper, 9 of the 11 drawings tipped in, each picture labelled and accompanied by text written in a neat hand, some light browning throughout and occasional marks, in the original decorative wrappers, spine chipped, edges dog-eared.
A delightful illustrated essay on quadrupeds by the fifteen year old Gerrit Lodewijk Hendrik Hooft, who later entered politics and served as burgomaster of the Hague from 1843 to 1858. In a brief preface, Hooft sets out his reasoning for undertaking this project: that of all the qualities of the many animals in creation - such as the eyesight of an eagle able to spot a lamb from way up high - only man has a soul and has the ability to study and understand them in order to praise God for their creation. The realisation of this ‘agreeable duty’ has led him to decide to spend his leisure hours putting together this project in the hopes that it will bring pleasure to his parents:
‘Convaincu de ce devoir agréable, j’ai intention d’employer mes heures de loisir a faire une courte description des proprietés particulieres des quadrupedes; en y ajoutant les animaux mêmes dessinés en encre de Chine. -- Je ne doute que mes chers Parents n’applaudissent à ce dessein et c’est dans cette douce esprance que je me dis avec respect leur obeissant fils, G.L.H. Hooft’.
The manuscript is charmingly illustrated and shows Hooft to have been an accomplished artist for his age: there are eleven pen and ink drawings of quadrupeds in a variety of landscape settings. The animals included are mostly domestic animals: bulls, cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, rams, goats (does and bucks), angora goats, pigs and wild boar. In each case, the most notable characteristics of the animal are given below the drawing. The illustrations are simply but strikingly framed with a yellow wash between single ruled lines. The title page is illustrated in a different style, with a monument bearing the date, 1794, and an inscription from Genesis: ‘Dieu vit tout ce qu’il avait fait, et voilà il était très bon’; the monument is topped with an urn and is set in a landscape filled with domestic and exotic animals, including a lion in the foreground. Facing the title-page is an 8 line stanza of a poem, beginning ‘Arrêtez-vous mes yeux! contemplez les merveilles de ce Dieu’.