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Daniel Giraud Elliot (1835-1915), Birds of Paradise

A Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise

London, by the Author, 1873.

Lithographs with original hand-coloring

'The plates in this work, almost as magnificent athe birds they portray, were the fruits of Elliot's considerable wealth, Wolf's greaartistry and both men's profound knowledge and love of birds' (Dance).

Elliot writes of the illustrations: 'The drawings of Mr. Wolf will, I am sure, receive the admirationof those who see them; for, like all thaartist's productions, they cannot be surpassed, if equalled, athe present time. Mr. J. Smit has lithographed the drawings with his usual conscientious fidelity, and in his share of the work has left me nothing to desire... In thecolouring of the plates Mr. J.D. White has faithfully followed the originals; and in the difficult portions where it was necessary to produce the metallic hues, he has been very successful'.

Elliot regards 'brightly coloured waving plumes' aa typical characteristic rather thaan indispensable feature of this beautiful species which are presented in three sub-families, Paradiseae, containing the typical Birds of Paradise and their allies, Epimachinae, those species 'characterised by long, slender, somewhat curved bills', and Tectonarchinae, 'species thaare in the habit of erecting bowers'.The work is dedicated to Alfred Russel Wallace, to whom Elliot expresses his indebtedness 'for nearly all our information regarding the habits ofmany species'.

Daniel Giraud Elliot was born in New York, but later moved to Chicago to serve as Curator of Zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.  His great wealth and interest in ornithology enabled the production of a series of sumptuous color-plate books on birds, long after most publishers had turned to smaller formats and cheaper coloring techniques.  Elliot commissioned the best bird artists of the day including Joseph Wolf , Josef Smit, and in the case of the Hornbills, the celebrated Keulemans. 

Anker 131; Dance, The Art of Natural History, p. 132; Fine Bird Books (1990) p. 95; Nissen IVB 296; Wood p. 331; Zimmer p. 207.