William Matthew Hart (British, 1830-1908), Common Pheasant; Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus
William Matthew Hart (British, 1830-1908)
Common Pheasant; Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus
Study for John Gould’s The Birds of Great Britain, IV, plate 12
Pencil and watercolor heightened with white and gum arabic on paper
Paper size: 14 1/4 x 21 1/4 in.
Frame size: 24 x 31 in.
Provenance: Frederick Du Cane Godman
In this spectacular watercolor, Hart’s mastery of ornithological painting is fully displayed. He captures the luminescent qualities of the plumage of the pheasant, skillfully translating them to paper. Although Gould considered the pheasant to be an introduced species like the turkey and peacock, he agreed with his subscribers’ wishes to include it since it was partially wild in woodlands. The portrayal of a male pheasant killed by a poacher’s snare represented ‘an old and true Phasianus colchius which has met a fate to which hundreds of its brethren are annually subjected’.
WILLIAM MATTHEW HART (BRITISH, 1830-1908)
The talented natural history painter William Matthew Hart was the artistic genius behind some of the lavish illustrations for John Gould’s splendid work The Birds of Great Britain and A Monograph of the Trochilidae or family of Hummingbirds.
He began working for Gould in 1851, beginning an association that was to last thirty years. Early during this period, he made the patterns for the lithographic plates for Gould’s work on hummingbirds and working on The Birds of Great Britain with Henry Constantine Richter. By 1870 Hart had become Gould’s chief artist and lithographer. After Gould died in 1881, Hart was employed by Richard Bowdler-Sharpe of the British Museum to complete Gould’s work on the birds of New Guinea and to produce illustrations for Sharpe’s monograph on the birds-of-paradise.
Hart is roundly regarded as Gould’s most devoted protegé and his most accomplished artist, drawing upon Gould’s incomparable legacy of research and craftsmanship to create a splendid tribute to Gould and his favorite birds.
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