Gould Birds of Great Britain, Pl. 331, Little Auk
Original Antique Print
21 3/4" x 15" (approximate)
The Birds of Great Britain
Produced in London from 1862 to 1873 and issued in 25 parts, The Birds of Great Britain was created at the peak of Gould's artistic maturity and is considered by many to be the culmination of his career. Comprising 367 hand-colored lithographs from drawings by John Gould, H. C. Richter (1820—99), Joseph Wolf (1820—1899), and William Mathew Hart (1830—1908), every plate in this folio is appealing. The beautiful colors, dramatic backgrounds and frequent inclusion of baby birds in the composition all contributed to the success of this publication in Gould's day and are why it is so sought after by collectors today.
John Gould (1804—1881) was a prolific publisher of ornithological subjects. In 19th-century Europe, his name was as well known as John James Audubon’s was in North America. Unlike John James Audubon, whose life’s work focused on one region, John 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. Among John Gould’s best known folios are the monumental Birds of Europe, originally published in 22 parts from 1832 to 1837, A Monograph of Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans, 1834 and 1854, Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming Birds (1849—61), John Gould’s masterpiece in both breadth and beauty, and John Gould's last publication, The Birds of New Guinea and the Adjacent Papuan Islands, Including Many New Species Recently Discovered in Australia, published in London and issued in 25 parts from 1875 to 1888. Works from these Gould monographs may also be found on our website.
References: S. Sitwell, Fine Bird Books, G. Sauer, John Gould the Bird Man, C. E. Jackson, Bird Illustrators.
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