Thursday, October 6, 2011
BIRD ART TITLES
1) Gould, John. The Family of Toucans. 2011. Taschen. 51 color plates with booklet in box. Price: $99.99 U.S.
SUMMARY: John Gould's toucans are arguably the most striking and dramatic bird illustrations ever published. Gould (1804–1881) was without question the most prolific ornithological artist of the 19th century, and the only one to rival John James Audubon in ambition and quality. Gould had a romantic enthusiasm for winged creatures, as well as a passion for natural history and a 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.
The dazzling illustrations from Gould's Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans, 1852-1854 represent his most dramatic, magnificent images. The amazing range of vivid colors—shiny black, vibrant red, yellow, and orange—creates an unprecedented sense of animation. Shown against simple backgrounds, Gould's toucans look very much alive, as if they were about to take flight. The inspiration for Toucans came while Gould was working on his Birds of Europe, when he became fascinated by the toucan collection of a fellow ornithologist. He made several trips to central European museums to gather material for Toucans, and after publication of the first edition, redrew some of the plates and added 20 new birds to this revised and expanded second edition. All are included in these touchingly beautiful reproductions of Gould's hand-colored lithographs.Booklet text is by Jonathan Elphick.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those that collect bird art or like toucans!
2) Audubon, John James. The Birds of America. 2011. Sterling. Hardbound with slipcase: 448 pages. Price: $80.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: John James Audubon's paintings and descriptions of the birds of North America remain the gold standard against which all ornithological portraits are judged. His landmark work, Birds of America (1838), consisted of 435 life-size prints that were published in batches of five over the course of thirteen years. Because the prints were extremely large and had to be hand-colored by a team of painters, the cost of creating the original sets was exorbitant. Today, complete copies are rare--the last to be sold commanded approximately $11.5 million in a December 2010 auction, making it the most expensive book ever.
The exquisitely preserved, complete set of prints from which this slip-cased facsimile edition was created is part of the permanent collection of the Natural History Museum of London. The images were captured using state-of-the-art digital scanning techniques to preserve the intricate detail and vibrant colors of Audubon's original work. It's a stunning book--and a reminder to us of the importance of preserving these lovely creatures and their natural habitats. David Sibley wrote the introduction to this volume.
RECOMMENDATION: An affordable and accurate reproduction of Audubon's master work. Would make a nice gift for bird art collectors or birders.