John Gould, Pl. 19 Jer Falcon, hand-colored lithograph, Birds of Europe, 1832–37

Laura Oppenheimer

John and Elizabeth Gould, Pl. 19 Jer Falcon, hand-colored lithograph, Birds of Europe, 1832–37

Acquire, Plate 19, Jer Falcon, Falco Islandicus (Lath.), superb hand-colored lithograph, from John Gould’s Birds of Europe, available this week only at a special price. John and Elizabeth Gould drew and lithographed the raptors in this magnificent plate in which the white plumage of an adult bird in the foreground is contrasted with the brown plumage of a young bird perched behind.     

In Gould's text that accompanies this plate in the Birds of Europe, he relates Captain Edward Sabine observations of the Jer Falcon's change in plumage color made during a voyage of discovery in Davis's Straits and Baffin's Bay, off the coast of Greenland: "In his memoir on The Birds of Greenland [1819], Captain Sabine observes, that "the  progress of this bird from youth, when it is quite brown, to the almost perfect whiteness of its maturity, forms a succession of changes, in which each individual feather gradually loses a portion of its brown, to the almost perfect whiteness of its maturity, as the white edging on the margin increases in breadth from year to year; this has been the cause of a variety of synonyms authors in general refer to;" and we may add, will also explain the various changes that occur during the life of this bird, between the two stages of life we have represented by the subjects chosen for our plate." 

John Gould’s monumental Birds of Europe, was originally published in 22 parts from 1832 to 1837. It comprises 448 hand-colored folio-size lithographs in five volumes. The five volumes were classed according to a system designed by the zoologist and politician, Nicholas Aylward Vigors (1785–1840). Vigors co-founded the London Zoological Society in 1826. Edward Lear, one of the great ornithological artists of his era, drew and lithographed 67 of the plates and many of the foregrounds, and the balance of the plates were drawn and lithographed by Gould’s talented wife, Elizabeth Coxen Gould, from sketches by John Gould.

Superb color and condition, printed by C. Hullmandel and colored by Gabriel Bayfield in London, 1832–1837. Sheet size approximately 21.375 x 14.375 inches.

 

John Gould (1804–81) was a prolific publisher of ornithological subjects. In 19th-century Europe, his name was as well recognized as Audubon’s was in North America. Unlike Audubon, whose life’s work focused on one region, Gould traveled widely to study specimens in European museum collections and employed talented artist-assistants to help create his lavish, hand-colored lithographic folios.

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 23, Nicholas Vigors hired him to work as a 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, began their publishing career. During his lengthy career, Gould published over forty volumes comprising nearly 3,000 large folio ornithology plates of species from around the world.

Among Gould’s many folios are A Monograph of Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans (1834 and 1854), the most flamboyant of Gould’s works. Monograph of the Trochilidae or Family of Humming Birds (1849–61) is Gould’s masterpiece in both breadth and beauty. Produced in London 1862–73, The Birds of Great Britain is considered to be the culmination of Gould's career.

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

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