LEAR, Edward (1812-1888)
Palaeornis Rosaceus, [Roseate Parakeet]
[London: E. Lear, 1830-1832]. Hand-coloured lithograph, printed by Charles Hullmandel. Wove paper. Sheet size: 19 3/4 x 12 15/16 inches.
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 Hyman, "Edward Lear's Birds", 1980)
This beautiful image is from Lear's first published work, limited to 175 copies, 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. 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 image depicts the bird which Lear identified as the Roseate Parakeet (Paleornis rosaceus), though it evidently resembles an Australian bird known as the Princess Parrot (Polytelis alexandrae). The colourful Princess Parrot's plumage is mostly green with a pink throat, bluish crown and rump, and bright green shoulders as depicted here. The Pricess Parrot is so named in honour of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who in 1863 married the Prince of Wales Edward VII and eventually became Queen of the United Kingdom.
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.