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The Peloponnesian Wildcat

Bory de Saint-Vincent, Jean-Baptiste Georges Marie [ Jean-Baptiste-Geneviève-Marcellin ] J.C Werner pinxt. - François sculpt.- Impre. de Langlois. The Wildcat of the Morea. "Chat sauvage, Felis catus ferus Lin. Variété de Morée." Paris et Strasbourg, F.G. Levrault 1832-6
Scarce original hand coloured lithograph of the Peloponnesian Wildcat from Bory de Saint- Vincent's" Expédition scientifique de Morée, entreprise et publiée par ordre du gouvernement français. Travaux de la section des sciences physiques.."

A sub species of the European Wildcat; Felis silvestris "It differs from F. s. silvestris in its generally isabelline coloration,in the absence of distinct stripes on the sides, and in having theblack rings on the tail straight and clearly defined; lateral stripesreplaced by irregular brownish-rufous marblings; feet unspotted"(Trouessart, 1910, p. 100).

Bory de Saint-Vincent states in the text (1836, vol. 1, p. 396) that among the oak-dotted pastures of the locality near Mount Diaphorti the Wildcats occur in larger numbers than elsewhere. Here he collected the specimen from the high branches of an oak. According to Geoffrey (in Bory de Saint-Vincent, 1833, vol. 3,pt. 1, zool., p. 13), the animal is very common in certain mountainous parts of Arcadia, especially in the Canton of Karytaena and on the slopes of Mount Diaphorti. It is destructive to poultry, smallbirds and mammals, and partridges.

The image drawn by J.C Werner shows the Wildcat upon a branch as described by Saint-Vincent. Image bright and clean; toning to edges of page and rust spot to upper blank margin; the title has been corrected with a pasted paper.

Jean Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778 – 1846)was a French naturalist.
He was sent as naturalist with Captain Nicolas Baudin's expedition to Australia in 1798, but left the vessel at Mauritius, and spent two years in exploring Réunion and other islands in the Indian Ocean. Joining the army on his return, he was present at the battle of Ulm and battle of Austerlitz, and in 1808 went to Spain with Marshal Soult.
His attachment to the Napoleonic dynasty and dislike to the Bourbons were shown in various ways during 1815, and his name was consequently placed on the list of the proscribed; after several years of exile, he was allowed to return quietly to Paris in 1820. In 1829 he headed a scientific expedition to the Peloponnese, and in 1839 he had charge of the exploration of Algeria.
Through all the vicissitudes of his life his literary activity was great, and he did a great deal for the popularization of his favourite science. He was editor of the Dictionnaire classigne d'histoire naturelle, and one of the principal authors of the Annales des sciences physiques; the official work on the Morea was produced under his care, and he contributed frequently to periodical publications.

The Morea expedition was the second of the great military-scientific expeditions led by France in the first half of the 19th century. The first, used as a benchmark, had been the Egyptian one, starting in 1798; the last took place in Algeria from 1839. All three took place at the initiative of the French government and were placed under the guidance of a particular ministry (Foreign relations for Egypt, Interior for the Morea and War for Algeria).The great scientific institutions recruited learned men (both civilians and from the military) and specified their missions, but in situ work took place in close co-operation with the army.
The members of the scientific expedition landed at Navarino on March 3, 1829, after 21 days at sea.

From 1829 to 1831, under the leadership of the naturalist, physical geographer and Colonel Jean-Baptiste-Geneviève-Marcellin Bory de Saint-Vincent (1778-1846) a large collaborative body of artists, antiquarians, botanists, draftsmen, geologists, and epigraphers carried out a geographic survey of the Peloponnesus. The mission was originally divided into three sections, one dealt with the physical sciences, the second with archaeology, and the third with architecture and sculpture. While the documentation of the ancient sites and monuments fell under the direction of the architect and antiquarian Guillaume Abel Blouet (1795-1853), the geographical survey was attached to the physical sciences section under Bory de Saint-Vincent.
Navari- Blackmer:169; 466 by 291mm (18¼ by 11½ inches).   ref: 2835  €450

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