Birds are fascinating: when they fly, they embody freedom; their magnificent plumage displays nature's amazingly wide range of colors. F. N. Martinet first made his hand-colorized lithographs to help identify and classify the various species; they were published in the works of the leading ornithologists of the 18th century. However, they have long since been acclaimed as works of art in their own right. What makes Martinet's illustrations so special is the passion for detail, the coloring, which is especially striking in the birds' plumage, and the realism of his depictions, as he preferred live rather than preserved specimens. Histoire des oiseaux brings together more than 200 bird species in one volume. Not only do these illustrations offer us a fascinating overview, they also witness a period in history as well as documenting the exceptional talent of Martinet. The illustrations are described by Antoine Reille, an expert in fauna, and the president of the French Union for the Conservation of Nature.