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Engraved Prints - Lithography
Botanicals - Ornithology

Sparrow Hawk Eleazar Albin (fl. 1713-1759). A natural history of birds: illustrated with two hundred and five copper plates, curiously engraven from the life and exactly colour'd by the author, Eleazar Albin . . . London: Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, 1738. 2 volumes.

Eleazar Albin was a water-colorist who specialized in natural history illustration. His Natural History of Birds was the first British work of ornithology to feature hand-colored plates. Albin was not an ornithologist, but his introduction indicates that he consulted with a wide group of bird collectors and enthusiasts. The drawings were all based upon real birds, either living or stuffed, and the engraved plates were hand-colored by Albin or his daughter, Elizabeth. The book first appeared in a very limited edition in 1731; the Castle Collection copy is the second edition, published in 1738.

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Laurey from Brazil

Heads & feet

Jacob Christian Schäffer (1718-1790). Elementa Ornithologica, Iconibus vivis coloribus expressis illustrata. Ratisbonae: Typis Weissianis, 1774.

Schäffer was both a theologian and one of Germany's leading naturalists during the eighteenth century, responsible for numerous publications on natural history, including illustrated works on fungi and insects. Like his contemporary, Linnaeus, with whom he corresponded, Schäffer focused on the classification of birds based upon their anatomical structure. Accordingly, his work contains none of the narrative information found in Albin and Lewin about a bird's habits and geographical distribution, but instead classifies the birds according to particular physical characteristics. Part One, seen at left, focuses on the structure of heads and feet. In Part Two, seen at right, the entire bird is shown, with a detailed illustration of the structure of the bird's tongue. This is the first edition of Schäffer's work; it was sufficiently popular that it was re-issued in a second edition in 1779.


Great Crested Owl

William Lewin (d. 1795). The birds of Great Britain : systematically arranged, accurately engraved, and painted from nature : with descriptions, including the natural history of each bird : from observations the result of more than twenty years application to the subject, in the field of nature : in which the distinguishing character of each species is fully explained, and its manner of life truly described / the figures engraved from the subjects themselves by the author, W. Lewin, and printed under his immediate direction. London: Printed for J. Johnson ... , 1795-1801.

Lewin, a member of the Linnean Society of London, first published this work in 1789 in an edition of 60 copies, each containing 323 original watercolor illustrations. When the demand for the book outstripped Lewin's ability to produce new paintings, he issued this second edition with engraved versions of his original paintings. He was aided in this work by his three sons, one of whom, John Lewin, later went to Australia where he was responsible for some of the earliest illustrated works on Australian wildlife. Lewin writes in the Preface that the illustrations and descriptions are based upon twenty years of original observations by him and his sons. The work also includes illustrations of bird eggs, most of them drawn from the collections of "the distinguished patroness of natural history, the late Duchess Dowager of Portland."

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Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Alexander Wilson (1766-1813). American ornithology; or, the natural history of the birds of the United States. Illustrated with plates, engraved and colored from original drawings taken from nature. Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808-1814. 9 volumes.

American Ornithology was the first major illustrated work of natural history produced in the United States. Wilson, an immigrant from Scotland in the 1790s, was encouraged by the Bartram family in Philadelphia to undertake this systematic study of American birds. Wilson served as naturalist, artist, and salesman for the work, traveling up and down the East Coast in search of both specimens and subscribers for this expensive set of books. His narrative emphasizes behavior rather than anatomy, and is enriched by stories of his encounters with the birds. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker that served as a model for this illustration was a bird that he wounded and captured near Wilmington, North Carolina. This ferocious bird came close to escaping from his room at an inn by pecking through the plaster and lathing of an outside wall, and then destroying the table to which he tied it.

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Charles Lucian Bonaparte (1803-1857). American ornithology; or, the natural history of birds inhabiting the United States, not given by Wilson; with figures drawn, engraved, and coloured, from nature. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey, 1825-1833. 4 vols.

This extension of Alexander Wilson's magnum opus drew upon the growing knowledge of American birds that resulted from American exploration of the West in the 1810s and 1820s. Titian Peale, son of the great American artist Charles Wilson Peale, did the original drawings from specimens he collected as a member of Maj. Stephen Long's expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1819-1820. The organizer of this publishing venture, as well as the author of much of the text, was Charles Lucian Bonaparte, a nephew of Napoleon, who came to Philadelphia in 1822. The text for the Wild Turkey, seen at right, was drawn heavily from accounts of the bird's behavior written by John James Audubon. The illustrations in both Wilson and Bonaparte were engravings that were hand-colored after printing.

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Wild turkey

Pauline Knip (1781-1851). Les pigeons. Paris: Chez Mme. Knip, 1811.

Pauline de Courcelles Knip was a popular artist in Paris who did most of the original paintings for this work during her brief marriage to the Dutch painter Josephus Augustus Knip. On the title page she is identified as the chief natural history painter working for the French Empress Marie-Louise, but she had made her reputation thanks to the patronage of Marie-Louise's predecessor, Josephine. The book was issued in 15 parts, with engravings done by Jean Cesar Macret, which were then printed in color and hand-finished. The text describing the birds was written by the Dutch naturalist C. J. Temminck. This is the largest, most artistically ambitious bird book before Audubon, Selby, and Lear a generation later.

Colombe muscadivore
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