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Magnificent lithograph from John Gould’s final work, The birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia. It was always Gould’s intention that the Birds of New Guinea…, was to be a continuation of his great work … Read Full Description
Rest of the World
Orders over A$300
ship free worldwide
Magnificent lithograph from John Gould’s final work, The birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia.
It was always Gould’s intention that the Birds of New Guinea…, was to be a continuation of his great work on the Birds of Australia, as he saw that the ornithology of Australia and New Guinea were linked, as well as the fact that many more new Australian species had been recently discovered after its his completion in 1869.
This bird was once considered a distinct species, known as “Elliot’s Sicklebill”, “Epimachus ellioti”. While some believe this was a valid species that is possibly critically endangered or extinct, it is generally viewed by most mainstream ornithologists as a hybrid. The Black Sicklebill has hybridised with Arfak Astrapia. Found in the mountain forests of New Guinea. The Elliot’s Promerops can measure up to 110cm in length, and as a result, the male Black Sicklebill is the longest member of Paradisaeidae. The male is polygamous and performs a horizontal courtship display with the pectoral plumes raised around its head.The male has black plumage with an iridescent green, blue and purple scale-like feathers, red iris, bright yellow mouth, long curved black bill, huge sabre-shaped tail and large erectile fan-like plumes on sides of breast. The female is smaller and has reddish brown plumage with brown iris and buff below.
Sold with the original letterpress description as issued.
John Gould (1804 - 1881)
Gould was born in 1804, at Lyme Regis in Dorset. In 1818 his father was appointed a foreman gardener at the Royal Gardens, Windsor Castle. As a youth Gould also trained at these gardens and became an expert in taxidermy. In 1825 Gould moved to London and set himself up as a self-employed taxidermist. He was the first known taxidermist to have received royal patronage after preserving a Thick-kneed Bustard for King George IV. Numerous orders followed from the king with the most arduous task being stuffing the famous giraffe given by the Pasha of Egypt. He met and married Elizabeth Coxen in 1827. A talented artist in her own right, Elizabeth’s drawings and lithographic skills were fundamental to the success of John Gould’s renowned publications. In 1830, he obtained a number of specimens of the exotic and little-known birds of Northern India, forming the bold idea of issuing a book about them, which was rejected by the publishers. Gould was determined to issue the book himself at his own expense and so he arranged for his talented wife to draw and lithograph the plates form his own sketches. He persuaded N.A. Vigors to write the text for him and then set about getting subscribers for his publication. At this, he was spectacularly successful and this list was headed by Victoria (Queen from 1837) and Prince Albert, an emperor, a king, three princes and nine dukes. The resulting book, A Century of Birds… from the Himalaya Mountains, was published in 1832. This folio size (550mm x 380mm) was to become his format for all his great works. Encouraged by the response to his first book, Gould set about on a more ambitious project: an attempt to illustrate all of the birds of Europe. He engaged Edward Lear to share the job of illustrating the work with Elizabeth and between them they produced 449 plates for the Birds of Europe which was completed in 1837. This established Gould not only in the eyes of the public but also within the scientific community. He then sailed to Australia in May 1838 with his wife and eldest son, aged 7, a young nephew, a man-servant and a maid-servant, and his collector John Gilbert. He stayed in Australia for two years leaving from Sydney on 9 April 1840. On his return he took on his greatest work, The Birds of Australia begun in London on 1 December 1840. The final parts, making a total of thirty-six, appeared in 1848. They were bound in seven volumes and the cost to subscribers was £115. A supplement volume issued in parts was completed in 1869. The Birds of New Guinea and the Adjacent Papuan Islands, Gould’s last great work, was completed after his death by Richard Bowdler Sharpe. Gould prepared the first twelve of the 25 original parts of the work, while Sharpe, Gould’s protégé and devoted friend, was responsible for the remainder of the monograph. Sharpe was more than forty years junior to Gould, whom he had met when he was only fifteen, and they both shared a passionate interest in ornithology. In his last years, although an invalid and often in pain, Gould was always pleased when Sharpe visited him to look at his collection of skins and discuss the latest bird discoveries. No other ornithologist can claim to have discovered and illustrated faithfully so many species of birds. The Birds of New Guinea are a fitting tribute to a long and prolific life in the field or ornithology. They are a magnificent record of the exotic world that John Gould so dearly loved, not only for the scientific value but also for his love of nature.
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