JOHN GOULD 1804 - 1881
John Gould, the Bird Man, was the enterprising genius behind the creation of 2999 different handcolored lithographic plates of birds and animals. He was born on September 14, 1804, at Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast in England. As the son of a gardener, Gould had no formal university training. He considered himself a self-made man. He gained his ornithological knowledge by observation and experience. Nevertheless his contributions to this science were so vast that in 1843 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.
married Elizabeth Coxen in 1827. Elizabeth traveled and worked with Gould
until her death in 1841. Shortly after their marriage, Gould, who was a
skilled taxidermist, acquired a collection of bird skins from the hill country
of the Himalayas, many of them new to Europe. After he stuffed and mounted
them, he realized their artistic possibilities, and his new life as a bird
illustrator began. Elizabeth helped to draw, lithograph, and color many
of his first plates. Over the next 57 years Gould published more than forty
large folio volumes. The first set appeared in 1831 and the last in 1888,
seven years after Gould's death.
Scholars think that Gould himself did the original sketches for all the plates. Other artists - Elizabeth Gould, Edward Lear, Joseph Wolf, William Hart, and H.C. Richter did most of the hand coloring and lithography. With the hummingbirds, which are naturally iridescent, gold or silver leaf was used under the watercolor to mirror their natural beauty. Richard Bowdler Sharp cooperated with Gould on his later works and supervised the completion of the works after Gould's death in 1881.
In his pursuit of new and different birds, John Gould traveled to Asia, Australia and the East Indies. His series of natural history plates is considered by many as the finest works of bird illustrations ever presented. His Hummingbirds, along with his Toucans and his Birds of Paradise, are generally most in demand by collectors, but his other works are the same exquisite quality.
The making of these prints
was technically and artistically demanding. Gould's original sketches were
transferred to stone with special pencils or chalk. They were printed by
hand from the stones. Each print was hand-colored, and issued in small sets
to subscribers only. As the prints were very expensive for their time, only
a few hundred of the wealthiest people and institutions could afford them,
accounting for their rarity today.
Michael Alden Associates, LLC is proud to be a dealer in these wonderful works of art. You can select from Toucans, Hummingbirds, Ducks, Birds of Paradise, Pittas, and a lot more.
All antique prints are offered subject to prior sale and unframed.