ROMÉ DE L'ISLE, Jean-Baptiste Louis
Catalogue systématique et raisonné des curiosités de la nature et de l’art, qui composent le cabinet de M. Davila, avec figures en taille-douce. 3 vols.Paris: Briasson, 1767.
Describes 8,096 mineral specimens from a wide range places, including a suite of specimens from Potosí, Bolivia, as well as many items from Canada, Mexico, and Paraguay. The catalog also lists 5,253 shells, 600 preserved animals, 101 plants, 3,915 fossils, 154 bezoars and calculi, 402 books, over 12,000 prints and engravings, 1,741 original artworks, 441 maps, as well as various scientific instruments and precious stones.
"Pedro Francisco Dávila, possessor of the largest collection of natural history specimens in Paris, and wishing to establish an institution in Spain to preserve it, approached King Carlos III of Spain. But political difficulties and an approaching war with England distracted the king, who declined the purchase. Because of debts incurred building the collection, creditors forced Dávila to put the accumulation up for auction in Paris. For this purpose, a detailed collection catalog was required. Dávila had already written many descriptions, but it was his introduction through Balthasar Sage to the young Romé de l'Isle that created this remarkable record of the collection.
"Romé de l'Isle took the existing material, added considerably to the mineralogical descriptions, and put the catalog into publishable form. In this task he was assisted by Abbé Duguat who helped with the mineralogical descriptions and Abbé Gua de Malves [1712-1786] who described the shells. Through their efforts, two volumes describing natural history specimens were produced, one of which was entirely devoted to minerals. In addition, a third volume written by Romé de l'Isle probably with assistance from Pierre Remy, describes the fossils, artwork and books" (The Mineralogical Record).
Subjects: MUSEUMS › Natural History Museums / Wunderkammern