Essai sur l'histoire naturelle de la mer Adriatique par le docteur Vitaliano Donati, avec une lettre du docteur Leonard Sesler, sur une nouvelle espece de plante terrestre, traduit de l'Italien

Autore: DONATI, Vitaliano (1717-1762)

Tipografo: Pieter de Hondt

Dati tipografici: The Hague, 1758

4to (262x200 mm). [2], III, [1], 73, [5] pp. and XI plates. Title page printed in red and black. Woodcut ornament on title page. Woodcut decorative initials and headpieces. At the end is the Catalogue de livres qu'on trouve à la Haye chez Pierre de Hondt. Slightly later half calf, double lettering piece on spine (worn and rubbed). On the back pastedown bookplates of the Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College (duplicate) and of the Boston Society of Natural History (purchased from the previous on March 17, 1941). Some light foxing and browning. A good copy.

First edition in French, dedicated by the printer to Madame Caroline De Shutz and her husband Monsieur De Grovestein, of Donati's Della storia naturale marina dell'Adriatico with L. Sesler's letter describing the new species “Vitaliana perennis”.

Donati systematically studied the physical geography, flora and fauna of Dalmatia and visited the main islands of the Adriatic sea, living with fishermen. The scientific report he sent in December 1745 from northern Dalmatia to his patron Leprotti in Rome was published in Venice in 1750 at the expenses of Count Carli under the title Della storia naturale marina dell'Adriatico saggio. The book contains general considerations on marine biology, original observations on the hydrography and geology of the eastern Adriatic coast, schematic notions on fishing material, descriptions of fossils, and, above all, the detailed and well-illustrated presentation of many species living in this sea. Donati's work also demonstrated the essentially animal character of coral reproduction and growth. The success of the work was immediate and lasting. The part devoted to corals was translated into English and published under the title New discoveries relating to the history of coral in the “Philosophical transactions” (XLVII, 1751, p. 95). Only a year later a German translation of the entire book was printed in Halle, and a little later, in the “Philosophical Transactions” of 1756, Donati's work was extensively summarized and analyzed by A. Trembley. When J. Salvemini de Castillon translated from the Italian and published this book in Holland under the title Essai sur l'histoire naturelle de la mer Adriatique, Donati complained in a letter to A. Vallisnieri, that the work was actually but a small part of his actual research and a larger study of the Adriatic, which, however, was never completed.

Vitaliano Donati, traveler and naturalist from Padua, was professor of botany at the University of Turin. In 1759 he was in charge of a naturalistic expedition to Egypt and the Indies, during which he found death (cf. M.D. Grmek, Donati, Vitaliano, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, vol. 41, 1992, s.v.).

Italian Union Catalogue, IT\ICCU\RMLE\031832; Pritzel, 2370; Nissen, 1137.