John Gould (1804-1881)
A selection from: The Birds of Europe
Original hand-colored lithographs
Distinctive lithographs of birds from Europe 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 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 of London. 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.
Gould's 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. His wife and other artists were able to transfer his sketches to stone; hand print and hand-color them.
One of the most accomplished and engaging natural history works of the 19th century, The Birds of Europe was also the first of Gould's works to feature plates by Edward Lear. A total of sixty-eight images bear Lear's name, and they are among the most remarkable bird drawings ever made.
Lear endowed his illustrations with some measure of his own whimsy and intelligence, and his style is at once fluidly spontaneous and realistically precise. In this way, the images of The Birds of Europe are amazingly distinctive, while also highly realistic. Gould undertook this work partly in an effort to redress the imbalance between the study of local and foreign ornithology. Gould portrayed birds native to Europe in a manner that had only been thought appropriate for the colorful species of distant places. In this way he managed to draw much popular interest back to native European birds, which were suddenly considered equally beautiful to exotic species