Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots : the greater part of them species hitherto unfigured, containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life, and on stone
Lear, Edward. Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. London : Published by E. Lear . 1832.
Lear, Edward (1832) Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. London : Published by E. Lear .
Lear, Edward, Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. London : Published by E. Lear . 1832.
Edward Lear started painting parrots in 1830 when he was 18 years old, and by 1832 he had published 42 paintings of parrots as lithographic plates bound together as a book. A total of 175 books were made of which about 100 survive today. He painted live parrots at the London Zoo and some in private collections. The quality of his paintings of parrots established his reputation as one of the best natural history artists of his time.
The young Lear gained access to parrots in private collections through contacts he made while sketching at London Zoo. He met Benjamin Leadbeater, a taxidermist and trader in specimens, who is credited in the captions as possessing several of the birds depicted. Another primary source of specimens was the menagerie of Edward Smith Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby and then president of the Linnean Society (1828-1833).
Lear met Stanley in 1831 and spent time studying the parrots amongst his large collection of animals. Noted as the pinnacle of his natural history productions, during the period before his eyesight began to fail, the illustrations are regarded as exquisitely accurate and appealing. The work was a forerunner to the major volumes of bird paintings by Gould and Audubon, who had both worked with Lear. Sketches and studies for this work are included in the major Lear art collection held at the Harvard University Houghton Library.
The lithographic plates for Lear's publication were produced by Charles Joseph Hullmandel, a printer noted for his reproduction of fine art. The full title is Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots: the greater part of them species hitherto un-figured, containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life, and on stone.
42 lithographs with original hand painted color by Edward Lear.
Ireland, Corydon (27 June 2012). "Edward Lear's natural history". Harvard Gazette