John Gould, Pl. 43 Wedge-tailed Sabre-wing, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph

$1,250 this week only (list price $1,800). Offer expires 1-29-2017

John Gould, Pl. 43 Wedge-tailed Sabre-wing, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph
Laura Oppenheimer


John Gould, Pl. 43 Wedge-tailed Sabre-wing, Family of Hummingbirds, first edition, 1849–87, hand-colored lithograph

Enjoy special pricing on Pl. 43, Wedge-tailed Sabre-wing Campylopterus Pampa, 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.”

Gould notes in his text entry for this plate that this species of bird was found by M. A. De Lattre in in Mexico and Central America, and that he also received specimens through Mr. Skinner from Guatemala. He further relates that “[i]n a brief notice of it by M. De Lattre, the gentleman states that it inhabits the densest forests during the whole of the year; that it is very wild and unsociable; that it is fond of singing; and were its song not monotonous it might be regarded as the Nightingale of the Trochilidae. It is found in the environs of Taupetta, in Mexico.”

“The sexes, as far as I have seen, are nearly alike in color, while in size a more than ordinary difference exists, the female being very much smaller than her mate; both have a blue-coloured crown, but the outer tail-feathers of the female are tipped with dirty white, instead of being a uniform colour.”

Drawn in the size of life and lithographed by J. Gould and H. C. Richter, a male and female hummingbird are depicted in a charming landscape featuring the Neptunia plena plant. In perfect condition, hand-colored lithograph, heightened with gum arabic, 21-1/2 x 14-7/8 inches.

$1,250 this week only (list price $1,800). Offer expires 1-29-17.

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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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