Gould, John (1804-1881)


John Gould (1804-1881)
The Birds of Australia
London: 1840-1869
Hand-colored lithographs
Paper size: 21 1/2" x 15

John Gould was an English ornithologist, self-taught artist and naturalist. Gould first worked as a gardener under his father in the Royal Gardens of Windsor, from 1818-1824, where he began his illustrations. He became an expert taxidermist, opening his own practice in London in 1824 and in 1827 he became the first Curator and Preserver at the museum of the Zoological Society ofLondon. Through his work he was able to meet with the country's leading naturalists and view new collections of birds given to the Zoological Society. His interest in birds was continually developing and in 1830 he published his first volume on birds, A Century of Birds From the Himalaya Mountains. For the next fifty years, Gould, his wife and artists working with them traveled around Asia, the East Indies and Australia.

While in Papua New Guinea, he decided to embark on a final folio The Birds of New Guinea. This was Gould'slast full-scale work, left incomplete on his death in 1881. Gould completed twelve of the twenty-five parts, and the task of finishing the project fell to Richard Bowdler Sharpe, a superbly qualified successor, who had been Gould's colleague, assistant and friend. One of Gould's most exotic works, the five magnificent volumes of the Birds of New Guinea contain an extensive series of beautiful images of birds of paradise, bower birds, parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, kingfishers and hawk-owls and was the most comprehensive chronicle of the island's ornithology ever issued. All of the 320 images are extraordinary for their color, artistry, interesting backdrops and animated compositions as Gould and Sharpe created some of their most engaging and active scenes of bird life for this exquisite series.