Alexander Wilson, 1st edition, Pl. 20 Louisiana Tanager, L. Crow, L. Woodpecker, hand-colored engraving, American Ornithology, 1808–1829

$1,150 this week only (list price $1,500). Offer expires 3-12-2018

Laura Oppenheimer

Alexander Wilson, 1st edition, Pl. 20 Louisiana Tanager, L. Crow, L. WoodpeckerAmerican Ornithology, hand-colored engraving, 1808–1829

Acquire Pl 20, Louisiana Tanager, L. Crow, L. Woodpecker, a superb antique engraving from Alexander Wilson's American Ornithology, specially priced this week only. The species depicted in the plate are: Fig 1, Louisiana Tanager, current name, Western or Louisiana Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana; Fig 2, L. Crow (Clark's Crow, Corvus columbianus); current name, Clark's Nutcracker, Nucifrfage columbiana; Fig 3, L. Woodpecker (Lewis's Woodpecker)current name, Lewis's Woodpecker, Melanerpes lewis.

Wilson honors the American explorers George Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the text for the Louisiana Tanager: 

This bird, and the two others that occupy the same plate, were discovered, in the remote regions of Louisiana, by an exploring party under the command of Captain George Meriwether Lewis, and Lieutenant, now General, William Clark, in their memorable expedition across the continent to the pacific ocean. They are entitled to a distinguished place in the pages of The American Ornithology, both as being, till now, altogether unknown to naturalists, and as natives of what is, or at least will be, and that at no distant period, part of the western territory of the United States.

The frail remains of the bird now under consideration, as well as the other two, have been set up by Mr. Peale, in his Museum, with as much neatness as the state of the skins would permit. Of three of these, which were put into my hands for examination, the most perfect was selected for the drawing.

Comprising 76 hand-colored engravings, American Ornithology depicts 262 species of birds. It is the first American ornithology published in in America. We offer a large selection of Wilson’s work. All plates are in excellent condition. These museum-quality, hand-colored engravings remain very affordable. In fact, we feel that Wilson’s work is undervalued.

Drawn from nature by A. Wilson, engraved by Alexander Lawson. In perfect condition, richly hand-colored engraving, excellent impression, 13.75 x 10.375 inches.

 $1,150 this week only (list price $1,500). Offer expires 3-12-18.

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Born in Paisley, Scotland, Alexander Wilson (1766–1813) was a weaver of silk, a peddler, and published author of poetry and social satire. Briefly jailed for libel over satirical poems, Wilson immigrated to the United States in 1794 and established himself in Philadelphia.

Learning in 1801 of Bartram’s Garden, a center for the scientific study of nature established in 1728 by the botanist and naturalist, John Bartram, he met William Bartram, John Bartram’s son and successor in operating the garden. William Bartram fostered Wilson’s interest in ornithology, and in 1803 they began to collect “all [the] finest birds [in the United States].” Wilson traveled observing birds and collecting specimens before returning to Philadelphia. The first of nine volumes of American Ornithology was published by Bradford and Inskeep in 1808.

The first comprehensive work published in the United States on the subject of ornithology, American Ornithology added 39 new species to those previously known and earned Wilson the title “Father of American Ornithology.” Far more accurate than those who preceded him in the field of ornithology, his engravings and descriptions were well recognized in his lifetime. Wilson never recovered from his last exhausting river crossing in pursuit of an elusive specimen. He died in 1813 at age 47, one volume short of completing American Ornithology.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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