A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …
A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …
A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …
A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …
A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …
A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set …

GOULD, John. A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set of plates from the 1st edition.

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GOULD, John. A monograph of the Ramphastidæ, or family of toucans. Complete set of plates from the 1st edition. The complete set of 1st edition later hand coloured prints for Gould's Monograph of the Ramphastidae or family of Toucans, printed 1833-35.
Comprising 33 later hand coloured plates in addition to 1 uncoloured plate of the Anatomy of the Toucan.
Presented in a custom made Quarter Chieftain #7 Drop Back box, rounded spine, raised boards, full gilt finish by Shepherds.

The first edition of the Toucans, with 20 plates by Lear and the remainder by Elizabeth Gould, was Gould's earliest monograph using the lithograph process and was a huge success. His decision to concentrate on the exotic and previously poorly understood toucan family won him as much critical acclaim as it did commercial success.
The toucans proved a particularly awkward family to study, as with the scarcity of good specimens and the rapidity with which new species were being discovered it was often difficult to establish their taxonomy. Nevertheless, the wild variety of the toucans is given the fullest and most fantastic rein in the dramatic plates. As Sitwell writes: '…the evil, as one is taught when young, are clothed in garish colours. The toucans, with their enormous beaks, have gone in for unimaginable transformations of their basic colours; their eyes, even, vary from bright blue to red. The beaks can be black, with an upper edge of pale straw yellow, or the beak is crimson red with a black dividing line. But sometimes the bill is green, olive green; or the lower bill, a bright blue with green shadings….' (Fine Bird Books, pp42-3). It is no surprise that these birds remain some of the most popular in Gould's work.
Lockdown led many of us to pursue new projects at home, and Sotheran's has been no different. We took some time to explore our vaults and were very excited to find the complete plates of this work, just as it was when we bought the great ornithologist's estate in 1881. This has always been one of his most celebrated works, as the birds are so beautiful and the plates so splendid. It seemed ridiculous that, after more more than a hundred and fifty years, they should still be kept under wraps. However, the plates were just as they were when they were first printed - that is, uncoloured. If we wanted to bring this work to life, we would have to do what Gould did and find a hand-colourist to painstakingly apply watercolour to each plate, following the facsimile reference copy in our collection. Gould had a number of wonderfully accomplished artists available, none of whom ever received a credit and all of whom are now lost to posterity. Our pool of talent was much smaller and more difficult to find, After some trial and error we found a great colourist and we are very happy to give him his full credit. Chris Mayger has done a superb job in rendering these colours as faithfully to Gould's originals, and to nature, as possible. The final stage was to put this astonishing work into a box fittingly sumptuous and historically sympathetic, and we went to a binder with a distinguished history of handling Gould's work.Shepherd's have handcrafted a beautiful gilt morocco box as if for a Victorian collector's prize library.

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