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Edward Lear’s Parrots

By admin

© Taschen

Brilliant Plumage, Exquisite Technique - Edward Lear’s illustrated book of parrots

Edward Lear may be best known for his nonsense verse, but in his early years he excelled as an illustrator of birds and reptiles. This set of 42 hand-colored lithographs, originally entitled Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, was the finest achievement of his relatively brief career as a natural history draftsman, before failing eyesight led him to concentrate on his writing.

During Lear’s time, live parrots were rare and much sought after.  They were bought and sold for large sums by wealthy amateurs of natural history, and prized by 19th century European aristocracy for their astonishing plumage and mimickry of the human voice.

Fine drawings of parrots were also highly prized, and this collection, one of the first entirely dedicated to the species, includes African, Australian and American parrots bred by eminent ornithologists such as Sir William Jardine and Prideaux John Selby, who sponsored Lear, inspiring and directing his work.

Unlike other avian illustrators, who often worked with stuffed birds, the young and prodigiously talented Lear (1812-1888) made his drawings from live parrots, capturing their expressions and movements in remarkably lifelike illustrations. The new medium of hand-colored lithography facilitated the vivid elegance of Lear’s work.

This exquisite collection, Lear’s Parrots, was originally reproduced in only 175 precious sets and sold by subscription to Britain’s most eminent scholars and wealthy collectors of living parrots. Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae established Lear as a celebrated illustrator and professor of drawing to the young Queen Victoria. With a brief zoological introduction and written descriptions of each bird, TASCHEN’s perfect reprint brings Lear’s parrots back to life.

Blue & Yellow Macaw © Taschen

Red & Yellow Macaw © Taschen

About the authors:
Francesco Solinas, born in Rome and educated at the University of Pisa, is Maître de Conférences at the Collège de France, Paris. He is the author of numerous books, catalogues and essays on 17th century Roman art and culture, as well as works on Italian aristocratic collections of the Medici, Barberini, Frescobaldi and Theodoli.

Sophia Willmann studied biology, and specializes in the behaviour of marine organisms. In 2007 she took part in whale research at the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa. She is also the author of children’s books that focus on biology.

Rainer Willmann holds a chair in zoology at Göttingen University, is director of its Zoological Museum, and is co-founder of its Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research. A specialist in phlogenetics and evolution, he conducts research into biodiversity and its history.

Edward Lear, The Parrots
Solinas, Francesco, Prof. / Willmann, Sophia / Arader, Graham
Loose Leaf Collection with 42 Fine Art Prints, Booklet, Box, 32.8 x 49 cm (12.9 x 19.3 in.), 116 pages
€ 75.00
ISBN: 978-3-8228-5274-3
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German

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