Prideaux John Selby, Vol. 1, Pl. 57 Pheasants, Illustrations of British Ornithology, 1821–34, hand-colored engraving

$7,850 this week only (list price $10,500). Offer expires 6-26-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

Prideaux John Selby, Vol. 1, Pl. 57 Common Pheasant, Illustrations of British Ornithology, 1821–34, hand-colored engraving

Acquire an exquisite hand-colored engraving from Prideaux John Selby’s Illustrations of British Ornithology, Pl. 57 Common Pheasant, Phasianus colchieus (Linn.), offered this week only at a special price. A male and female are represented in the plate; the female on the right is actual size and the male about three-fifths the natural size.

In the text for plate 57, Selby introduces the subject species with fascinating insights into the high value placed on it at that time in Great Britain. “Although the Pheasant has been for such a length of time a naturalised inhabitant of this country, the cause of its preservation must be referred, not so much to the wildness of its nature, as to the care and expense bestowed to that end by noblemen, and other proprietors, without which the breed would, in all probability, have been long since extinct. —Independent of the beauty of its plumage as an object of idle acquisition, the high estimation it bears at the table of the wealthy and luxurious proves too tempting an inducement for the poacher, whose facilities of of capture are greatly increased by the peculiar habits of the species." 

An excellent impression, this richly hand-colored engraving is in perfect condition with pristine color. Whatman paper. John Prideaux Selby's monogram can be seen in the lower right corner of the plate. Elephant folio size, 20.875 x 26.125 inches.

 $7,850 this week only (list price $10,500). Offer expires 6-26-17.

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The artist-naturalist Prideaux John Selby (1788 – 1867) was born in Northumberland, England to a prominent family. As a child, he exhibited a strong interest in ornithology, and by the time he was 12 or 13 years old he had composed his first illustrated notes on common British birds. At an early age, Selby became a member of the Wernerian Natural History Society in Edinburgh. Selby’s interests in natural history extended into forestry and entomology, but his devotion to the subject of ornithology was primary.

Selby’s large-scale engravings were the first work of British ornithology to depict many birds in the size of life. Comprising two volumes with a total of 222 engravings, Illustrations of British Ornithology was published in Edinburgh in 19 parts from 1821 to 1834. Created during the same period that Audubon was publishing the Birds of America, Both Audubon and Selby employed the Scottish engraver W. H. Lizars. A highly skilled engraver himself, Selby employed Lizars’ services only for printing and coloring his own exquisite copper plates. Copies vary, and depending on the folio 222 or 218 of the engravings were hand-colored, many by Daniel McNee.

Twenty-six of the plates were drawn by Selby’s brother-in-law, Admiral Mitford, and the rest were executed by Selby, who obtained most of the specimens for the drawings himself. Selby engravings are printed on elephant folio size Whatman paper that is watermarked with the date the paper was made. Audubon also used Whatman paper for the Havell edition of Birds of America.

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

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