Gould, John


John Gould (1804-1881)
From: A Monograph of the Trogonidae, or Family of Trogons
London, 1836-1838
Original hand-colored lithographs
Splendid lithographs from John Gould’s Family of Trogons

John Gould (1804-1881) 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 and 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 of London. Through his work he was about 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 Elizabeth and artists working with them traveled around Asia, the East Indies and Australia. Elizabeth and other artists were able to transfer his sketches to stone; hand print and hand color them. Gould became the leading publisher of ornithological illustrations in Victorian Britain, reating over three thousand plates of birds in over forty volumes.

Gould conceived of a specialized monograph on the trogons as a complimentary volume to his book on the toucans. The two highly colorful species were the only birds for which he created monographs, dedicated to one sort of bird rather than those of a particular geographical area. A Monograph of the Trogons was published from 1858-1875, and contains forty-seven hand colored lithographs. Gould's illustrations for the Trogons are some of the most magnificent that the ornithologist ever produced.