Great Heron, by Edward Lear, from John Gould, The Birds of Europe, 1837.

32. Gould, John (1804-1881).
The Birds of Europe.
London: Printed by Richard and John E. Taylor, Published by the author, 1837.

John Gould first emerged on the ornithological scene with his Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1832), which was a great success.  He immediately began work on a much larger compilation, The Birds of Europe.  The plates were issued in 22 parts, four parts per year, each with 20 plates, and the production was finished right on schedule in 1837.  Typically, Gould would draw rough sketches of his birds, at which point his wife Elizabeth would take over, creating a finished painting, and also producing the lithographic stone used for printing.  In the Century, Gould had given Elizabeth full credit for the art work; in this publication, the plates are signed jointly.  Gould also enlisted the artistic aid of a young artist, Edward Lear.  Lear was assigned some of the larger birds, such as the herons and cranes, and he acquitted himself admirably.  Although he drew from stuffed specimens, Lear was able to give his birds a life and vitality that few of his contemporaries could achieve, as the Great Heron reproduced here demonstrates.  The Blue Roller was the work of Elizabeth Gould.

Blue Roller, detail, by Elizabeth Gould, from John Gould, The Birds of Europe, 1837.
Linda hall Library