John Gould, Pl. 5 Imperial Eagle,
Birds of Europe, 1832–37, hand-colored lithograph
24 February, 2017 by
John Gould, Pl. 5 Imperial Eagle,
Laura Oppenheimer


John Gould, Pl. 5 Imperial Eagle, hand-colored lithograph, Birds of Europe, first edition, 1832–37

Enjoy significant savings on  Plate 5, Imperial Eagle, Aquila Imperialis (Briss.), L'Aigle Imperial, a superb hand-colored lithograph from John Gould’s Birds of Europe. Drawn from nature and signed in the stone by John and Elizabeth Gould.

An adult (in front) and young bird (in back) are depicted one-third of the natural size. Referring to this "noble species" of Europe, in the accompanying text description, Gould remarks that "The young in the plumage of the first and second year differ from the adult in having the upper part of a rufous brown, varied with large blotches of light red, and in having the scapularies merely terminated with white instead of being wholly of that colour...." Whereas in the adult "...the upper surface is of dark glossy brown; several of the scapularies are pure white; tail deep ash colour irregularly banded with black, each feather having a black bar near its extremity, which is yellowish white; irides light yellow; cere and tarsi yellow."

Comprising 448 hand-colored folio-size lithographs in five volumes, John Gould’s monumental Birds of Europe was originally published in 22 parts from 1832 to 1837. The five volumes were classed according to a system designed by the zoologist and politician, Nicholas Aylward Vigors (1785–1840). Vigors co-founded the London Zoological Society in 1826. The majority of the plates were drawn and lithographed by Gould’s talented wife, Elizabeth Coxen Gould, from sketches by John Gould. The artist and author, Edward Lear, contributed 67 of the plates and many of the foregrounds.

In perfect condition, printed by C. Hullmandel and colored by Gabriel Bayfield in London, 1832–1837. Sheet size measures 21.5 x 14.875 inches.


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John Gould (1804–81) was a prolific publisher of ornithological subjects. In 19th-century Europe, his name was as well recognized 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. Initially 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 venture. During a career spanning over half a century, John Gould oversaw the publication of more than a dozen folios on birds of the world.

Among Gould’s many folios are A Monograph of Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans (1834 and 1854), the most flamboyant of Gould’s works. Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming Birds (1849–61) is Gould’s masterpiece in both breadth and beauty. Produced in London 1862–73, The Birds of Great Britain is considered to be the culmination of Gould's career.

References: Scheverell Sitwell, Fine Bird Books 1700–1900, 1990; Susan Hyman, Edward Lear's Birds, 1980

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300

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John Gould, Pl. 5 Imperial Eagle,
Laura Oppenheimer 24 February, 2017
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