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The Parrots: The Complete Plates

Art / PhotobookOut of Print

By: Edward Lear (Illustrator), Francesco Solinas (Author), Willmann Solphia (Author)

32 pages, 42 loose leaf prints, booklet with colour & b/w illustrations


Unbound | Jun 2009 | #194429 | ISBN-13: 9783822852743
Out of Print Details

About this book

Language: Trilingual in English, French, and German

This collection contains 42 large (33 x 49 cm) loose-leaf reproductions of Edward Lear's illustrations. Included is a booklet of the same size containing an essay in English, German, and French on both Lear's book, and the biology of parrots. The whole comes in a sturdy cloth-bound box.

Edward Lear may be best known for his nonsense verse, but in his early years he excelled as an illustrator of birds and reptiles. This set of 42 hand-colored lithographs, originally entitled Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, was the finest achievement of his relatively brief career as a natural history draftsman, before failing eyesight led him to concentrate on his writing.

During Lear's time, live parrots were rare and much sought-after, bought and sold for large sums by wealthy amateurs of natural history, and prized by 19th century European aristocracy for their astonishing plumage and mimickry of the human voice. Naturally, fine drawings of them were also highly prized. One of the first collections entirely dedicated to the species, Parrots includes African, Australian, and American parrots bred by eminent ornithologists such as Sir William Jardine and Prideaux John Selby, who sponsored Lear, inspiring and directing his work. Unlike other avian illustrators who often worked with stuffed birds, the young and prodigiously talented Lear (1812-1888) made his drawings from live parrots, capturing their expressions and movements in remarkably lifelike illustrations. The new medium of hand-colored lithography facilitated the vivid elegance of Lear's work.

This exquisite collection was originally reproduced in only 175 precious sets and sold by subscription to Britain's most eminent scholars and wealthy collectors of living parrots. The Psittacidae established Lear as a celebrated illustrator, and professor of drawing to the young Queen Victoria. With a brief zoological introduction and written descriptions of each bird, Taschen's reprint brings Lear's parrots back to life for all to admire.

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Born and raised in Rome and educated at the University of Pisa in Art History and History of Art Criticism, Francesco Solinas is Maitre de Conferences at the College de France (Paris). Specialist in the art of documentation, and in the history of collecting, his books, catalogs and numerous essays on Cassiano dal Pozzo and XVIIth century Roman art and culture are well known. He is also notable for his works on Italian princely and aristocratic collections, such as the Medici, the Barberini, the Frescobaldi, and the Theodoli, as well as his studies on European still-life. Sophia Willmann studied biology Gottingen. In 2007 she took part in whale research at the Port Elizabeth Museum in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. In addition to numerous publications on marine biology, she is also author of children books.

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