Wilson 1st Edition, Pl. 74 Black-bellied Darter; Female D.; Great Northern Diver; Black-headed Gull; Little Auk
Original Antique Print
13 3/4" x 10 3/8" (approximate)
Alexander Wilson, born ten years before the American Revolution in Paisley, Scotland, had been a weaver of silk and a widely published poet who ultimately found himself jailed for libel and publicly disgraced. Frustrated and penniless, in 1794 he immigrated to the United States and established himself in Philadelphia. Inspired by the abundance and variety of bird species in the New World, Wilson developed an intense interest in the scientific study and artistic rendering of birds.
The first comprehensive work published on the subject, his American Ornithology added 39 new species to those previously known and earned him the title “Father of American Ornithology”. Comprised of 76 hand-colored engravings, American Ornithology depicts 262 species of birds. Far more accurate and painterly than anyone who preceded him, Alexander Wilson’s engravings and descriptions were well recognized in his lifetime. Thomas Jefferson, an early subscriber, was among his supporters. Alexander Wilson never recovered from his last exhausting river crossing in pursuit of an elusive specimen. He died at the age of 47, one volume short of completing American Ornithology. The final and ninth volume was completed by Alexander Wilson’s ardent supporter, George Ord.
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