Prideaux John Selby, Pl. 4 Osprey, Female, Illustrations of British Ornithology, 1821–34, hand-colored engraving
Acquire a rare antique print from Prideaux John Selby’s Illustrations of British Ornithology, Pl. 4 Osprey, Female, Falco haliaetus (Linn.) to the work of another pioneering naturalist, George Montagu (1753–1815), author of the two-volume Ornithological Dictionary...of Great Britain (1802).
“According to Montagu, this species appears to more abundant in Devonshire, than in any other part of the kingdom. Its peculiar habits necessarily limit its appearance to particular districts and situations; for being strictly piscivorous, it is only in the vicinity of lakes, rivers, or such pools of water as abound with fish, that we can expect to meet with it. I have seen it upon Loch Lomond, where they are said to breed; but they are far from being numerous in Scotland. The Osprey is a powerful bird, the females often weighing upwards of five pounds.
This richly hand-colored engraving is in perfect condition with excellent color. Elephant folio size.
$1,650 this week only (list price $2,500). Offer expires 2-5-17.
The artist-naturalist Prideaux John Selby (1788 – 1867) was born in Northumberland, England to a prominent family. As a child, he exhibited a strong interest in ornithology, and by the time he was 12 or 13 years old he had composed his first illustrated notes on common British birds. At an early age, Selby became a member of the Wernerian Natural History Society in Edinburgh. Selby’s interests in natural history extended into forestry and entomology, but his devotion to the subject of ornithology was primary.
Selby’s large-scale engravings were the first work of British ornithology to depict every bird in the size of life. Comprising two volumes with a total of 222 engravings, Illustrations of British Ornithology was published in Edinburgh in 19 parts from 1821 to 1834. Created during the same period that Audubon was publishing the Birds of America, Both Audubon and Selby employed the Scottish engraver W. H. Lizars. A highly skilled engraver himself, Selby employed Lizars’ services only for printing and coloring his own exquisite copper plates. Copies vary, and depending on the folio 222 or 218 of the engravings were hand-colored, many by Daniel McNee.
Twenty-six of the plates were drawn by Selby’s brother-in-law, Admiral Mitford, and the rest were executed by Selby, who obtained most of the specimens for the drawings himself. Selby engravings are printed on elephant folio size Whatman paper, which is watermarked with the date the paper was made. Audubon also used Whatman paper for the Havell edition of Birds of America.
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