LEAR, Edward (1812-1888)
Platycercus Stanleii. Stanley Parakeet
[London: E. Lear, 1830-1832]. Hand-coloured lithograph by Lear, printed by Charles Hullmandel. Wove paper. In gold leaf frame with hand-painted French wash-line. Provenance: John James Audubon.
A fine example of the work of "perhaps the greatest draughtsman of birds in European culture." (Philip Hofer) This image is from Lear's masterpiece: "Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae, or Parrots," a work that combines "the most exacting scientific naturalism with a masterly sense of design and intuitive sympathy for animal intelligence." (Susan Hayman, "Edward Lear's Birds", 1980)
This excellent image is from Lear's first published work, limited to 175 copies, and the first English ornithological work published in folio format with lithographic plates. Lear began work on this monograph when he was only eighteen and carefully supervised every step of the publication. He made many of his original sketches from the live specimens at the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens, and then prepared numerous preliminary lithographs. Many of these appear not to have satisfied him, for they were never published. Christine Jackson describes Lear's painstaking approach to his work: "Lear worked in great detail, outlining every feather and filling in the details with fine lines. This scientific accuracy extended to every part of the bird, from the beak to the claws...The colouring was done with opaque watercolours with touches of egg-white for parts of the feathers requiring sheen, and for the eye, to add that life-like touch." ( Bird Illustrators: Some Artists in Early Lithography, London: 1975).
The present image depicts a Western Rosella parakeet (Platycercus icterotis) native of southwestern Australia, less commonly referred to as here as the Stanley Rosella, named by Lear in honor of his patron Baron Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby.
The provenance of this plate is impressive, having originally come from a copy of Lear's parrots presented by Lear to famed ornithologist John James Audubon (sold Sotheby's New York, 14 June 1993, lot 62).
Cf. Anker 283; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990) p. 115; cf. Nissen IVB 536; cf. Ray The Illustrator and the Book 90; Zimmer, pp. 380-381.