John Gould 1832 Bewick's Swan Cygnus Bewickii

Catalog Number 51185
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Artist Biography:

John Gould [1804 - 1881] was a self-taught English naturalist, a gifted artist, & a talented taxidermist. A man of vision, with a talent for organization and administration, he founded an empire for ornithological illustration, publishing more than forty large folio volumes. These works contained over 3,000 plates, all superbly drawn and meticulously hand colored. The first work appeared in 1831 and the last in 1888, seven years after Gould's death. His was a true Horatio Alger story, beginning with humble origins as the son of a gardener. He learned taxidermy at an early age, becoming a taxidermist for the Zoological Society of London in 1827. During this same year he married Elizabeth Coxen, who embraced his goal ardently and can be credited for much of this success. Though Gould sketched the outline designs of every plate, many of the finished drawings, transfers to Lithographic stone & hand coloring were her work. Credit should also be given to his talented secretary Edwin Charles Prince, and the team of gifted artists assembled to complete these tremendous publications. These included E. Lear, J. Wolf, W. M. Hart & H. C. Richter. By mid-life Gould was recognized as an ornithological authority and a man of science and in 1843 was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. His first work was "A Century of Birds from the Himalayan Mountains", published in 1831. Unlike many of his peers, he was a consummate businessman and skillful marketer, so his works became very successful early on. This provided funding for his travel to far-flung parts of the world such as Australia, America and New Guinea to observe and sketch the species of these countries. After the premature death of Elizabeth at the age of 37 four days after the birth of her sixth child and Lear’s departure, Gould embarked on a new partnership with Richter. The great success of their first collaboration, Birds of Australia (1849-1883) encouraged Gould to embark on The Birds of Great Britain (1862-1873), generally considered to be his greatest achievement. Issued in parts over 8 or 9 years, the completed set contained 367 plates and attracted 468 subscribers, both private and institutions, led by Queen Victoria. Birds of Asia was started in 1850 & completed by Sharpe after Gould’s death at the age of 1881.




The Birds of Europe



Plate No.:



Bewick's Swan Cygnus Bewickii

Print Method:

Lithograph – original hand colored on heavy woven paper


Generally Excellent Condition

Size of Print:

535 x 355 mm, [approximately 21 x 14 in.]

Size of Leaf:

535 x 355 mm, [approximately 21 x 14 in.]


Nissen 371; Zimmer I 251; Anker 169;Skipwith, Peyton The Great Bird Illustrators pgs 76-77; Ripley and Schribner: Ornithological Books in the Yale Library pg 112; Whitell, H.M. The Literature of Australian Birds pg 283; Roux, Francis John Gould’s Birds of Europe

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