La Barbastelle/La Pipistrelle, c. 1770, Buffon
La Barbastelle/La Pipistrelle, Buffon's Histoire naturelle, c. 1770
This stunning hand-colored copper engraving depicts two different species of bats. The print shows these bats in a European-style rocky outcropping, romantically framed by a tree and dramatic storm clouds. While the engraving serves as a scientific observation from an Enlightenment-era publication, the artistic rendition of the bats gives it a more universal appeal.
Bats can be found all over the world. Over 1,240 species of bats exist, and can be divided into two categories: mega or microbats. This simplistic ordering system allows bats to be easily identified as either smaller "microbats" of the United States and Europe that often use echolocation, or the larger flying foxes, who are known for their excellent vision and often prefer tropical climates. Although vampire bats are well-known for feasting on the blood of cattle, diets vary from species to species, and include small animals (such as lizards), insects, fruits, blossoms or even nectar. Some flying foxes can have a wingspan as large as five feet, but there are bats as small as one inch, including the Kitti's hog-nosed bat, the smallest known bat in the world.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, (1707-1788) was a French naturalist and mathematician who had a profound effect on science. His work influenced the next two generations of naturalists and he was one of the most widely read authors of the day. He was the director of the Jardin du Roi, which is now the Jardin des Plantes, and was instrumental in transforming it into a research facility and museum. Buffon's great masterpiece is Histoire naturelle, which consisted of thirty-six volumes published from 1749 until 1788.
Plate size: 3" x 5"
Sheet size: 6.5" x 4"
Condition: Some minor foxing, but otherwise in excellent condition.