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JOHN GOULD (1804-1881) hand colored lithograph print of hummingbirds by noted ornithologist illustrator artist
One of a number of works by the artist in my shop is this hand colored lithograph of the species Heliactin cornuta, (also known as Heliactin bilophus), drawn by the famous 19th century English naturalist, ornithologist and natural history illustrator JOHN GOULD, the lithographic plate produced by his assistant Henry Constantine Richter (1821-1902). The "Heliactin" is more commonly known as the Horned Sungem, found in the lowland tropics of Bolivia, Brazil, and Surinam. Gould's prints of hummingbirds are most likely his most popular, but over a period of many years, especially in the 1830's and 1840's, he produced a number of major works on the birds of various geographic regions of the world, such as Europe, the Himalayas, and Australia. Gould's observations of birds collected by Darwin led to the latter's theories on evolution. Gould was a taxidermist, professional gardener and zoological curator in the course of his long career, and he prospered greatly from the sale of the lithographs of birds. This example, measuring 20" by 11 1/2" inside the mat, 27 1/2 by 17 1/4" framed, is hand colored. This hand coloring includes the distinctive use of gum arabic which tends to give the feathers of the birds a richness, three dimensionality, and iridescence; note how the yellow and red feather tufts at right angles to the beak shimmer and shine in the light. The print is in acceptable, though not excellent nor mint, condition. There is some light mottled discoloration, some light foxing, and even a deceased insect under the glass. The frame is presentable with slight wear. I have not examined this out of the frame but would be happy to do so upon request. Photos were taken through non-glare glass which tends to dull details and color. I suggest discarding it. including other works of the Gould and Richter collaboration.
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Jon Berg, Southern California, CA
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