John Gould, Pl. 58 Blue-breast, Family of Hummingbirds, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
$2,550 this week only (list price $3,800). Offer expires 11-13-2017
6 November, 2017 by
John Gould, Pl. 58 Blue-breast, Family of Hummingbirds, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
Laura Oppenheimer


John Gould, Pl. 58 Blue-breast, Family of Hummingbirds, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph

Enjoy special pricing on Pl. 58, Blue-breastSternoclyta cyaneipectusGould.(title on plate), a superb hand-colored lithograph from John Gould’s Family of Hummingbirds A male and female hummingbird are depicted in the the size of life. The female hummingbird (below) is drinking nectar from a blossom of Aphelandra variegata.

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 monograph, Gould states, ”I have been unceasing in my endeavors to obtain every species which has been discovered by enterprising travelers of this country, of Germany, of France, and of America.”

Drawn in the size of life and lithographed by J. Gould and H. C. Richter, Hullmandel & Walton imp. Fine hand watercoloring, in perfect condition, 21.5 x 14.75 inches.

$2,550 this week only (list price $3,800). Offer expires 11-13-17.

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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.  

To create Family of Humming Birds, Gould spent over two decades studying hummingbird specimens, previous works on the subject, and also gleaned information about their habits and range from leading naturalists in Europe, as well as in correspondence with naturalists working in the field, studying the flora and fauna throughout the Americas, who procured both hummingbird and native botanical specimens for this work. The preparatory drawings for the birds in the folio were made entirely from specimens. Some of the botanicals were taken from living plants grown in Great Britain, and others from procured specimens. Gould did not see a living hummingbird until he traveled to North America in 1857.  

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.

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

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John Gould, Pl. 58 Blue-breast, Family of Hummingbirds, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
Laura Oppenheimer 6 November, 2017
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