John Gould, Pl. 74 The Mango, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
$950 this week only (list price $1,200). Offer expires 7-24-2017
17 July, 2017 by
John Gould, Pl. 74 The Mango, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
Laura Oppenheimer


John Gould, Pl. 74 The Mango, Family of Hummingbirds, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph

Enjoy special pricing on Pl. 74, The MangoLampornis mango (title on plate), Swains.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 monograph, 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 his text entry for this species, Gould notes the confusion in its synonymy. In scientific nomenclature the erm synonymy applies to scientific name(s) no longer in use for identification. Gould acquired evidence of the differences between two different hummingbirds' ranges to clarify their identities based upon the detailed knowledge of hummingbirds he gained through over two decades study of hummingbird specimens, information from examination of previous work on the subject, contact with the leading naturalists in the scientific community in Europe, as well as correspondence with naturalists then studying the flora and fauna throughout the Americas and procuring specimens in the field.    

"This familiar species of Humming Bird was not only known to Linnaeus, but to Ray Willoughby, Maregrave, and most of the older authors, and, is in fact one of those with which Europeans first became acquainted; nevertheless, much confusion exists with regard to its synonymy, which I believe is principally owing to a nearly allied species, the Lamporia porphyrurus of Jamaica, having been confounded with it. This bird then it must be understood never goes to Jamaica, and to but a few of the West India Islands; on the mainland, however, it enjoys a more extensive range than any other species. ...[I]t is very generally dispersed over the southern continent for many degrees of latitude along the Andes. I possess examples from Bogota, Guayaquil, Peru, the Caraaccas, the Guianas, the Delta of the Amazon, and all parts of Brazil, as far south as the latitude of Rio de Janiero, in all of which countries it is to be found wherever localities suited to its habits occur" ”

Drawn in the size of life and lithographed by J. Gould and H. C. Richter, a male and a female are depicted with young birds in a nest, and a lovely botanical, Solanum fragrans, Hook. Exquisite hand watercolor painting is magnificently heightened with gold leaf and gum arabic to complete this beautiful composition. In perfect condition, 21.375 x 14.5 inches.

$950 this week only (list price $1,200). Offer expires 7-24-17.

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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.

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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John Gould, Pl. 74 The Mango, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
Laura Oppenheimer 17 July, 2017
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