Works by John and Elizabeth Gould

The Jeffrey Collection in the Mitchell Library includes several works published by English ornithologist John Gould and illustrated with plates produced by his wife, Elizabeth Gould and several other artists.

About John Gould

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John Gould. (CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

John Gould (1804-1881), ornithologist and publisher, was born in Lyme Regis. As a young man he took up his father's occupation of gardener but in 1825 he followed his interest in taxidermy by setting up shop in London.

In 1828 Gould was appointed animal preserver at the Zoological Society of London, then promoted to head of its ornithology department. In the late 1820s a collection of birds from the Himalayas region arrived at the Society and Gould conceived the idea of publishing a volume of hand-coloured lithographs of the birds, accompanied by text. This idea was realised in A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains. This set a format of publication he continued with for the next 50 years, mostly of birds of the world (Africa excepted).

The care he, and the artists he employed, bestowed on the plates and their colouring was remarkable, his object being to produce artistic pictures of birds and mammals in their natural habitats.

He worked with many artists to produce the plates, including his wife, Elizabeth Gould (1804 – 1841), William Matthew Hart (1830 – 1908) and Richard Bowdler Sharpe (1847 – 1909).

The monographs were published over a period of years to subscribers, with the list of subscribers often printed. Subscribers would then have the sections bound to their own tastes.

About Elizabeth Gould

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Elizabeth Gould. Unknown artist. This image is from an oil portrait by an unknown artist, painted after Elizabeth’s death in 1841. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841) began her career by producing drawings of birds intended to supplement her husband John’s letters to colleagues. Her husband encouraged her to learn lithography, and asked his collaborator Edward Lear to teach her. After beginning with creating illustrations for A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains, Elizabeth Gould continued to produce drawings for ornithological books until her death in 1841.

Once she had learned lithography, she went on to create illustrations from John Gould’s rudimentary drawings. She designed, lithographed, and painted more than 650 plates.

In 1838, Elizabeth and John travelled to Australia with the eldest of their four surviving children. While John travelled around collecting specimens, she drew and painted them. The Goulds had one son while in Australia, and after their return to Britain, she bore her eighth child. She died, of puerperal fever, shortly after their birth, at the age of 37.

Her letters are held in The State Library of New South Wales, part of which is known as The Mitchell Library.

About Robert Jeffrey

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Robert Jeffrey (1827–1902) unknown artist. (Mitchell Library)

Robert Jeffrey had a particular interest in ornithological works, and the list below represents his collection of works by Gould. All of these, with one exception, “were secured by Mr. Jeffrey in the original parts as issued to subscribers, and which were bound for him to his own specification, forming a singularly pure, fresh and beautiful example of this extensive, costly and important series.” (Francis Thornton Barrett. Memorandum on the Library formed by the late Mr. Robert Jeffrey, Crosslie House, Renfrewshire).

A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1 volume, 1830-1832)

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Bubo Bengalensis or Indian eagle-owl. From A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains, by John Gould, 1832. Painted by Elizabeth Gould. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Gould’s first monograph was printed in stages between 1830 and 1832, by Charles Joseph Hullmandel. The images of the birds were produced using the process of lithography. After the birds were sketched by Gould himself, they were drawn and transferred onto stones by Elizabeth Gould, and Edward Lear.

There were 298 subscribers to the book, including John James Audubon.

The Birds of Europe (5 volumes, 1832-1837)

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Alcedo atthis or common kingfisher. From The Birds of Europe volume 2, by John Gould. Issued in parts, 1832-1837. (John Gould,CC BY-SA 4, via Wikimedia Commons)

In the preface, Gould stated that: “The Birds of Europe, in which we are, or ought to be, most interested, have not received that degree of attention which they naturally demand. The present work has been undertaken to supply that deficiency."

Most of the 448 plates for these volumes were drawn and lithographed by Elizabeth Gould. Edward Lear created 68 of the images. Each plate is accompanied by descriptive letterpress.

It was printed by Richard and John E. Taylor, and issued in parts between 1832 – 1837.

It is dedicated to the Earl of Derby and the Council of the Zoological Society of London.

A monograph of the Ramphastidae, or family of toucans (1 volume, 1833-1835)

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Pteroglossus beauharnaesii or curl-crested aracari. From A monograph of the Ramphastidae, or family of toucans. John Gould, 1833-1835. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Charles Hullmandel, issued in 3 parts.

Contains 33 plates by Edward Lear and John and Elizabeth Gould.

“I have spared no pains in order to obtain all possible information on the subject, having for this purpose visited and carefully examined most of the collections on the continent, as well as those of our own island; and I beg to add that every species I have figured is at present in existence, and has been personally inspected.” (Preface)

A Monograph of the Trogonidae, or family of Trogons (1 volume, 1835-1838)

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Trogon resplendens or Resplendent Trogon. From A Monograph of the Trogonidae, John Gould, 1835-1838. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Taylor and Francis

The first edition of this work was issued in 3 parts between 1835 and 1838. In his preface, Gould stated that “the brilliancy of their plumage are surpassed only by the Trochilidae"... their plumage in certain parts shines with metallic brilliancy, and exhibits all the colours of the rainbow".

A second edition of the monograph was published in 1875. "Although I entitle this work a second edition of the Trogonidae, it is in reality a new publication, all the plates having been redrawn, and many new species figured for the first time, so as to bring the history of the family down to the present day."

Birds of Australia (7 volumes and supplement, 1840-1848)

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Illustration of an Emu and chicks, Dromaius novaehollandiae, by Elizabeth Gould. From The Birds of Australia in seven volumes by John Gould published by the author, 1848, printed by Richard and John E. Taylor, London. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Written by John Gould and published in seven volumes between 1840 – 1848, with a supplement published between 1851 and 1869. It was the first published account of Australian birds with illustrations. 681 species were recorded, of which around 300 were described for the first time by Europeans. The illustrations are hand coloured lithographs by Elizabeth Gould, Henry Constantine Richter, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Edward Lear.

Elizabeth and John Gould travelled to Australia in 1838 to collect specimens for the book. Elizabeth was able to complete 84 plates before her death. Henry Constantine Richter interpreted the remaining drawings.

The plates were printed by Hullmandel and Walton and hand colouring was copleted by Gabriel Bayfield’s studio. The letterpress with the descriptions of birds was printed by R & J.E. Taylor.

The book was originally issued to subscribers in parts – there were 250 subscribers. 175 of these sets are known to be in libraries. The others are in private hands or have been separated into individual prints.

A monograph of the Odontophorinæ, or, Partridges of America (1 volume, 1844-1846)

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Dactylortyx thoracicus or singing quail. From A monograph of the Odontophorinæ, or, Partridges of America by John Gould, 1850. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Richard and John E Taylor.

In this monograph, Gould considerably enlarged the number of recorded species of the American partridge family.

Gould was inspired by “the sight of the beautiful Callipepla Californica, presented to the Zoological Society of London by Captain Beechey, in 1830. The graceful actions and elegant deportment of these birds inspired me with a desire to become thoroughly acquainted with the entire group of which they form a part.” (Preface).

Mammals of Australia (3 volumes, 1845-1863)

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Lasiorhinus latifrons or hairy-nosed wombat. From Mammals of Australia, vol. 1, by John Gould, 1863. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

This work followed the publication of A Monograph of the Macropodidae or Family of Kangaroos in 1841. It was the first comprehensive survey of Australian mammals, and included the indigenous names for the species.

“It was not until I arrived in the country, and found myself surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet, that I conceived the idea of devoting a portion of my attention to the mammalian class of its extraordinary fauna.” (Preface)

Elizabeth Gould made drawing and watercolours, which were hand coloured by a group of artists for publication. Elizabeth is not credited in this work.

Monograph of the Trochilidae, or family of hummingbirds (5 volumes plus supplement, 1880-1887)

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Orthorhynchus ornatus or Antillean Crested Hummingbird. From Monograph of the Trochilidae, or family of hummingbirds Trochilidae by John Gould, 1861. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Taylor and Francis

Dedicated to her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Prussia, Princess Royal of England.

John Gould first saw a hummingbird during a specially arranged trip to the United States in 1857. He had a special interest in these birds. Most of the plates were drawn from specimens in his own collection, which he exhibited during the Great Exhibition in 1851.

The plumage of the birds is illustrated using varnish and oils, painted over gold leaf, lending a spectacular iridescence.

Birds of Asia (7 volumes, 1850-1883)

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Harpactes erythrocephalus or Red-headed trogon from Birds of Asia Vol. III, Parts XIII,-XVIII, by John Gould, 1861-1866. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Hullmandel and Walton and Taylor and Francis

Gould’s massive work, The Birds of Asia, took thirty-three years to complete, from 1850 to 1883. It was finished after Gould's death in 1881 by Richard Bowdler Sharpe.

The plates were illustrated and lithographed by Gould, William Matthew Hart, H. C. Richter, and Joseph Wolf.

Birds of Great Britain (5 volumes, 1862-1873)

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Phoenicurus phoenicurus or Common redstart, from Birds of Great Britain, vol. 2 by John Gould., 1873. (CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Printed by Taylor and Francis.

This was Gould’s first collaboration with artist Henry Wolf, with whom he travelled to Scandinavia.

The plates in this collection depict scenes with more sophisticated subjects than those of Gould’s previous works, including nests, chicks and eggs, as well as the birds.

“Every sky with its varied tints and every feather of each bird were coloured by hand; and when it is considered that nearly two hundred and eighty thousand illustrations in the present work have been so treated, it will most likely cause some astonishment to those who give the subject a thought.” (Preface)

Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia (5 volumes, 1875-1888)

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Harpyopsis novaeguineae or New Guinea Harpy Eagle, from Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, including many new species recently discovered in Australia, volume 1, by John Gould, between 1875 and 1888. William Matthew Hart. (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Published by Henry Sotheran & Co. Printed by Taylor and Francis

The last of Gould’s works, including kingfishers, cockatoos, bower birds, birds of paradise, pitas, parrots and honey-eaters. Originally published in 25 parts, the last 13 were completed by Richard Bowdler Sharpe after Gould’s death.

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