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John Gould (British, 1804-1881), [Bird Study]

John Gould (British, 1804-1881), [Bird Study]

  • $ 35,000.00

John Gould (British, 1804-1881)
[Bird Study]
Pencil on light grey paper
Signed, dated and inscribed left of image: J Gould the Bird Man/ Decm 14 - 1860
20 1/2 x 13 in

Provenance: This drawing formed part of an extensive album of 19th Century artists` sketches compiled by the young Miss Elizabeth Betts (d.1940) when her parents, Mr and Mrs E. Ladd Betts, welcomed artists to their home at Preston Hall, Aylesford, Kent.


John Gould was without question the most prolific natural history artist of the nineteenth-century, and the only one to rival John James Audubon in ambition and quality. The nineteenth-century was a time of intense fascination with discoveries in natural history, especially regarding knowledge of the wildlife of exotic lands. Gould shared the romantic enthusiasm of his time for such subjects, as well as the popular impulse to catalogue exotic wildlife. He combined his passion for natural history with outstanding scientific, artistic, and entrepreneurial talents. Drawing on these abilities, he embarked on a series of projects that would eventually make him the leading publisher of ornithological illustrations in Victorian Britain. Gould’s unparalleled career spanned five decades, and he produced a monumental series of books of birds throughout the world.

From the time he took up taxidermy in his early teens, Gould was devoted to recording bird life, either as he observed it personally or as it was reported to him by other ornithologists. He procured the scientific information through extensive correspondence, travel, and field research. The preparatory drawings that he produced were passed on for completion to skilled illustrators, most notably his wife, Elizabeth, and Edward Lear. The plates which resulted from such partnerships were a splendid fusion of art and science, with a scope that remains unsurpassed. Stunning and at the same time highly accurate, Gould’s illustrations linked beauty to science, and science to beauty, in and an unprecedented manner.

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