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John Gould Gallery



A Monograph of the Ramphastidae (Family of Toucans)
Among those who combined science and art to produce color plate books on natural history, John Gould was not only the most successful, but the most prolific. Without the advantages of wealth or formal education, he had achieved enough recognition in his chosen field to be taxidermist for King George IV at the age of 21. At 22 he was competitively chosen the first 'Curator Preserver' for the newly-established museum of the Zoological Society of London. His first book, 'A Century of Birds of the Himalaya Mountains', was published four years later.

While working on his massive 'Birds of Europe', Gould made several trips to European museums to gather material for two specialized books, one on Toucans and another on Trogons. Those completed, he left for Australia where he not only depicted hundreds of known species but discovered 300 new species. His obituary, printed in 'Nature', said '...he has left behind him a series of works the like of which will probably never be seen again.'

Gould continued to expand and correct his work on the Toucans. A revised edition was published in 1852-54, with a Supplement in 1885 for the original subscribers. The 'Toucans' is unique among Gould's books in one respect. It was the only major work translated into a foreign language; a German edition was published in 1841.
Publication City:   London
Medium:   Lithographs with original hand-coloring.
Dimensions:   Measuring 21 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches
Date:   1834-1835
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