Gould Hummingbirds, Pl. 345, Green-breasted Sapphironia
Original Antique Print
21 1/2" x 14 3/4" (approximate)
Hand-colored lithograph with gold leaf
Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming Birds
Considered John 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 Constantine Richter and William Matthew 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. 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 John James Audubon’s was in North America. Unlike John James 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, John 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 the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans, 1834 and 1854, 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 folios may also be found on our website.