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Herodias syrmatophorus [Australian Egret]
by the Author, [London 1869 - A fine image from John Gould's major ornithological achievement 'The Birds of Australia'. A very fine 'bird-portrait' of an egret at rest on a branch, preening its all important flight feathers. In the background two other individuals are shown in characteristic hunting pose. Gould writes 'This noble species of Egret, the largest of the group inhabiting Australia, is very generally dispersed over all parts of that continent, and is equally to be met with along the rivers and lagoons of the interior as well as in the neighbourhood of the coast'. John Gould, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, left Britain for Australia in May 1838 for what was to be a two year exploration of the birds and animals of the region. The natural history of the continent had not been studied in any detail before Gould's arrival and the abundant and highly varied bird life was to prove an inspiration to him, and between 1840 and 1869 he published what is his undoubted masterpiece: "The Birds of Australia". Gould wrote of his time in Australia 'The interval spent from my native shores were some of the happiest days of my life. The results of my journey cannot, I think, but be attended with great advantage to science. Independently of a great new number of Birds I succeeded in procuring the nests and eggs of at least two thirds of the species inhabiting that interesting region'. Contemporary praise for the work was fulsome: 'Great as is the excellence of Mr. Gould's former publications, there can be no doubt that the present work exceeds them all, both from an artistic and a scientific point of view'. One hundred and fifty years later there is no need to alter this sentiment. Cf. Fine Bird Books (1990), p.102; cf. Nissen IVB 370; cf. Sauer 9 & 18; cf. Zimmer p.255 & 259. Hand-coloured lithograph by J. Gould and H.C.Richter, printed by Hullmandel & Walton.
      [Bookseller: Donald A. Heald Rare Books (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2014-07-29           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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