160 pages, 100 colour illustrations
Birds have captured people's imagination since earliest times, with their fascinating plumage, behaviour and power of flight. In this beautifully and unusually illustrated book, Celia Fisher traces the remarkable breadth of ways in which artists, writers and storytellers have depicted the enduring magic of birds. Used as symbols of freedom and captivity, ill omen and divine message, seasons and the spirit, birds have delighted and haunted people for centuries. From the myths of ancient Egypt to the medieval Islamic 'conference of the birds', and featuring exotic species from around the globe as well as humble garden birds, Fisher explores the art, legends and literature of many world traditions. She reveals how the great age of exploration brought spectacular, newly discovered birds to European attention, and showcases stunning paintings from travellers in Asia, Australia and the Americas
"This is a book that showcases some seldom seen bird illustrations mainly to be found in books in the British Library. It is divided into chapters loosely featuring different categories, with accompanying text, giving plentiful snippets of information- anecdotes, random facts and myths associated with the selected pictures. However it’s a shame that there is no introduction, there are no footnotes nor references, and so you are left with a false aura of authority Don’t read this for scientific facts if you are a serious ornithologist, but you might enjoy dipping in to it, admiring the sumptuous works of art, and correctly identifying the birds delightfully depicted in illuminated manuscripts and miniature paintings."
- Kit Price Moss, BTO book reviews
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Celia Fisher gained her MA and PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she studied flowers in fifteenth-century paintings and manuscripts. She lectures and writes widely on the history of plants and gardens in art. Her previous books include The Medieval Flower Book, The Golden Age of Flowers and Flowers of the Renaissance.