GOULD, John (1804-1881). The Birds of Great Britain. London: Taylor and Francis for the author, -1873. (1873)
5 volumes. Folio (21 4/8 x 14 4/8 inches). 5-page list of Subscribers. 367 EXCEPTIONALLY FINE hand-colored lithographs after John Gould, Josef Wolf, and H.C. Richter. FINE AND ATTRACTIVE contemporary full maroon morocco, by Riviere for Henry Sotheran, each cover with wide decorative gilt border of floral roll-tools, the Devonshire family cipher and coronet stamped in gilt at each corner, the spines in seven compartments with six raised bands, gilt-lettered in two, the others decorated with a profusion of small gilt tools, inner gilt dentelles, all edges gilt (spines very slightly faded, with discreet repairs at foot of joints, versos of endleaves a little spotted). Provenance: from the library of William Cavendish, seventh duke of Devonshire (1808–1891, Duke from 1858). "The most popular of all his works is always likely to be Birds of Great Britain" ("Fine Bird Books") First edition. The Duke of Devonshire was a keen supporter and patron of Gould, subscribing to all of the artist's works in turn and taking two sets of The Birds of Great Britain, the other of which remains at Chatsworth. The duke "never appeared in society in London, reserving his public life for more serious and uplifting pursuits, notably the support of higher education. He was the first chancellor of the University of London, from 1836 to 1856, and an important influence on its early development. He was chancellor of Cambridge University from 1862 until his death; he was chairman of the royal commission on scientific instruction and the advancement of science, which sat from 1871 to 1874; and as an earnest of his commitment to the cause, he provided for the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge in 1874. He was a considerable benefactor of Owens College, Manchester, and of the Yorkshire College of Science, Leeds; when these colleges became part of the new federal Victoria University in 1880 he was its first chancellor" (F. M. L. Thompson for DNB). Gould found more subscribers for this than any other of his other monographs, and boasted that he employed the services of "almost all the colourers in London". "Many of the public are quite unaware how the colouring of these large plates is accomplished; and not a few believe that they are produced by some mechanical process or by chromo-lithography. This, however, is not the case; 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). Often referred to as the most sumptuous and costly of all British bird books, the plates depict scenes with more sophisticated subjects than Gould's previous works, including nests, chicks and eggs: "I also felt that there was an opportunity of greatly enriching the work by giving figures of the young of many of the species of various genera - a thing hitherto almost entirely neglected by author's, and I feel assured that this infantile age of birdlife will be of much interest for science." (Gould "Preface" to "Introduction", 1873).
Guidance: Arader Galleries, 2018 - $183,000; Sotheby's 1989 - $95,000