Monday, May 12, 2014

Gould's Birds of Asia

"[John] Gould (1804–1881) [photo], one of the most prolific ornithological artists of the 19th century, had a romantic enthusiasm for winged creatures, as well as a passion for natural history and an impulse to catalog. Drawing on his outstanding scientific and artistic talents, 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, during which he produced a series of books depicting birds from all over the world." [source]
The images below were sourced from the first two 
volumes of Gould's seven volume series on Asian birds.

Gould natural history lithograph of owl on partial branch
species name: Syrnium ocellatum
common name: Mottled Wood-Owl
locale: NW India [info]

SE Asian owl sketch by John Gould 19th century
Phodilus badius
Oriental (or: Asian) Bay Owl
SE Asia [info]

two blue/black birds, one in flight, above the other resting on a branch: drawn by John Gould
Sitta formosa
Beautiful Nuthatch 
Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma [info]

lithograph of an upright falcon on a rock with a hunched mate alongside - 19th century ornithology book illustration
Falco lanarius (deprecated)
Now: Falco biarmicus
Lanner Falcon
"breeds in Africa, southeast Europe and just into Asia" [info]

litho of 3 brown, long-tailed birds: 2 on a branch, one flying : 1800s science book colour sketch
Muscipeta incei (deprecated)
Now: Terpsiphone paradisi
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Malaysia, Burma, India [info]

Psarisomus dalhousie
Psarisomus dalhousie
Long-Tailed Broadbill
SE Asia, India, Himalayas [info]

Eurylaimus ochromalus
Black and Yellow Broadbill
Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand [info]

drawing of bright yellow-orange bird on branch with purple flower
Oriolus broderipi (deprecated)
Now: Oriolus chinensis
Black-Naped Oriole
Phillipines, SE Asia, India [info]

2 blue birds with yellow plumes and body markings in branch - lithograph 1800s
Melanochlora sultanea
Sultan Tit
Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia [info]

Harpactes hodgsoni
Harpactes hodgsoni (deprecated)
Now: Harpactes erythrocephalus
Red-Headed Trogon
India, Nepal, Bhutan & SE Asia [info]

lithograph of blue/brown/green kingfisher sitting on a rock with a lizard in its beak
Actenoides hombroni
Hombron's (or Blue-Capped) Kingfisher
Mindinao Island, The Philippines [info]

Halcyon omnicolor
Halcyon omnicolor (deprecated)
Now: Todiramphus chloris (best guess)
Collared Kingfisher
Asia, Australasia [info]

upright grey & blue Asian bird on a tree stump in book illustration 1800s
Coracias indica
AKA Coracias indica AKA Corvus benghalensis
Indian Roller
Far west to SE Asia [info]

lithographic sketch of two colourful birds of same species; one perched in tree, the other, hovering nearby, with an insect in its beak
Nyctiornis amictus
Red-bearded Bee-eater
SE Asia [info]

book illustration by J Gould of 2 colourful birds and a plain 3rd bird active in tree branch
Nectarinia ignicauda (deprecated)
Aethopyga ignicauda
Fire-Tailed Sunbird
N India / Himalayas [info]

bright orange & bright yellow birds in flight actively trying to catch insects around flowering tree branch
Pericrocotus solaris
Grey-Chinned Minivet
Bangladesh across to China, Thailand and Vietnam [info]

book sketch of large roosting black vulture with white shoulders
Gyps bengalensi
White-Rumped Vulture
Indian Sub-Continent and some East Asia [info]

ugly great black plumed vulture on branch with two more vultures in the background
Otogyps calvus
Red-Headed Vulture
Indian Sub-Continent and some East Asia [info]

2 blue/brown short-winged birds in book illustration lithograph, in flight, chasing insects
Cecropis hyperythra
Sri Lanka Swallow
Endemic to Sri Lanka

litho of 2 small brown black white birds on pine tree branch
Parus rubidiventris
Rufous-vented Tit
N Asia: Nepal to China [info]

John Gould's contributions to ornithological scholarship and natural history publishing are renowned. He travelled all over the world collecting birds obsessively. The pencil, ink and watercolour sketches of Gould's beloved quarry provided the designs for his book illustrations. Gould was ably assisted in bringing these initial sketches to print-quality, colour plates, by his wife, Elizabeth Gould, until her death following childbirth in 1841. Subsequently, Gould hired artists - including Edward Lear{1} {2} (the greatest of all bird artists in my opinion) - to help turn his designs into lithographic plates: "I am happy to say that I am getting my Birds beautifully drawn by other artists and as I have always [done] I shall continue to make the sketches."^ {1841}

Two areas of Gould's extensive legacy are particularly noteworthy. Gould was largely responsible for putting ornithological studies in Australia on the map as a consequence of an extended visit in the late 1830s. Of the some 750 species of bird that live here in Australia, Gould is believed to have provided the first description for nearly half of them. He also published a book on the local non-feathered animal population, and again, recorded the first scientific description for about 40 of the species. In a country with such a high regard for their unique fauna, Gould holds a particularly special place in its history. That makes the following all the more galling (doubly so when one considers Gould's hopes in his will that his own copies of his various series on birds would remain in the family "in the nature of heirlooms"):
"John Gould's copy of 'The Birds of Australia', one of only 250 sets published, along with his 'Mammals of Australia', 'A Monograph of the Macropodidae' and 'Birds of New Guinea' were sold to an Australian bidder in 1987. Their owner subsequently broke up the volumes and auctioned 1213 plates individually."^
Charles Darwin consulted with Gould in relation to birds that were collected in the Galápagos Islands during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Gould corrected Darwin's assessment of the unique species, providing pivotal analysis and identification of both birds and some animals. The information Gould provided - particularly about the variation of Galápagos finches - was combined with knowledge of the specific islands where each specimen was collected. Comparison between the island birds (and against comparable mainland species) was an important catalyst in Darwin's formation of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Gould's conclusions were published in Darwin's 'Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle' in ~1840.

1 comment :

Loren Coleman said...

Outstanding. Beautiful.

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