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In the 18th century the science of ornithology and the art of bird illustration began to advance rapidly together, with an increasing number of beautiful and informative books on birds being produced. Prior to this, books on botany were more … Continue reading

New volume on show in the Berkeley display case

The lunar themed display in the Berkeley display case has been replaced with a more earthly image. Volume III of John Gould’s ‘The birds of Great Britain’ (London, 1873) includes a stunning magpie (Pica Caudata). The magpie is one of the most frequently seen birds in the grounds of Trinity, particularly in and around College Park.

John Gould (1804-1881) was originally a gardener like his father, but in 1827 he became taxidermist to the Zoological Society in London. Here he came into contact with many leading naturalists and saw new species as they were brought into the country, which awoke his interest in drawing and describing them.

Gould used to make rough annotated sketches which were worked up to finished images by artists, including his wife, Elizabeth, Edward Lear, William Hart and Henry Constantine Richter. He became an authority on the birds of Europe, Asia, Australia and America as well as the mammals of Australia. The beautiful illustrations are still of scientific importance and provide great aesthetic pleasure.

Richter (1821-1902) came from a family of artists, his grandfather, father and sister all working in the field. He began working for Gould after Elizabeth’s death in 1841 and went on to produce around 3000 watercolours and lithographic plates for him, including this magpie.

John Gould 'The birds of Great Britain' (London, 1873)

John Gould ‘The birds of Great Britain’
(London, 1873)