John Gould, Pl. 34 Southern Hermit, Family of Hummingbirds, 1861, hand-colored lithograph
Enjoy special pricing on Pl. 34, Southern Hermit, Phaëthornis zonura, Gould, a superb original hand-colored lithograph from John Gould’s Family of Hummingbirds. As an artist-naturalist, an intrinsic part of Gould’s mission was to not only to depict, but to scientifically identify, name, and describe the attributes of each hummingbird. In the preface to this work, Gould states, ”I have been unceasing in my endeavors to obtain every species which has been discovered by enterprising travellers of this country, of Germany, of France, and of America.”
In the text description entry for this species, Gould states, “The bird to which I have given the name P. zonura appears to be the southern representative of the genus, since it is an inhabitant of Peru, and, I believe, of Bolivia.... The P. zonura must rank among the larger and more powerful of these little birds; it is more distinctly marked than any of them; and when its tail is outspread in flight, the rich rust colouring of the lower part of the back must present a striking contrast to the deep-black colouring of the tail feathers.”
The figures are drawn in the size of life. The botanical depicted is Pilumna fragrans, current name Trichopilia fragrans (Lindl), The Fragrant Trichopilia. Lithographed by J. Gould and H. C. Richter; Walter & Cohn, Imp. In pristine condition, excellent color, 21.375 x 14.5 inches.
$1,450 this week only (list price $2,200). Offer expires 5-29-17.
Considered Gould’s masterpiece in both breadth and beauty, Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming Birds comprises 418 plates. It was originally published in London in five volumes in 25 parts (1849–61), plus volume six, a five-part supplement, (1880–87). Depicted and lithographed on stone by artists John Gould, Henry Constantin Richter and William Mathew Hart, each plate exquisitely portrays these delicate, evocatively colored birds with the flowers indigenous to their area. Strong botanical elements add a dimension not found in other bird folios. A Family of Humming Birds also displays a tour de force of the hand-colored lithograph as a medium. Gold leaf, transparent oil colors, watercolors, lacquers and gum arabic are combined to capture the iridescent quality of these most colorful of birds.
John Gould (1804–1881) was a prolific publisher of ornithological subjects. In 19th-century Europe, his name was as well known as Audubon’s was in North America. Unlike Audubon, whose life’s work focused on one region, Gould traveled widely and employed other artists to help create his lavish, hand-colored lithographic folios. John Gould’s love of natural history was fostered in the gardens of King George III where his father was chief gardener at Windsor Castle. Although trained as a gardener, Gould’s interests quickly evolved, and at the age of 20, he was appointed taxidermist to the Zoological Society of London. After three years, he progressed to the position of curator of birds and chief taxidermist. In 1830, newly married, Gould and his artist wife, Elizabeth Gould (née Coxen, 1804 – 1841), began their publishing career. During a career spanning over half a century, John Gould oversaw the publication of more than a dozen folios on birds of the world.
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