Gould Toucans 2nd Ed, Pl. 23, Lettered Aracari
Original Antique Print
21 3/4" x 14 3/4" (approximate)
Monograph of the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans, Second Edition
The exotic Family of Toucans have a sense of familiarity because they are among the most often reproduced images of all bird art. The name toucan is derived from the Tupi Indians of Brazil who call them tucano. Their origin is the tropical rain forests of the Americas.
A Monograph of the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans is the most flamboyant of Gould’s works. Originally published in London in three parts from 1833 to 1835, the first edition comprises 33 hand-colored and one uncolored lithograph. Edward Lear contributed nine of the plates and the rest were drawn and lithographed by Elizabeth Coxen Gould, John Gould's talented wife, after sketches by John Gould. Gould published a second edition of the Family of Toucans from 1852—54 with 52 hand-colored plates drawn and lithographed by John Gould and H. C. Richter.
John Gould (1804—1881) was the most prolific publisher of ornithological subjects of all time. In 19th-century Europe, his name was as well known as John James Audubon’s was in North America. 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 soon evolved. He moved to London where he worked as a taxidermist, and at the age of 27, 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, John Gould and his artist wife, Elizabeth, began their publishing career.
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. Among John Gould's renowned works is the monumental Birds of Europe, originally published in 22 parts from 1832 to 1837 and A Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming-Birds (1849-87), considered Gould’s masterpiece in both breath and beauty.
Reference: Fine Bird Books 1700—1900, Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, 1990, page 107
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