The human history of depicting birds dates to as many as 40,000 years ago, when Paleolithic artists took to cave walls to capture winged and other beasts. But the art form has reached its peak in the last four hundred years. In The Art of the Bird, devout birder and ornithologist Roger J. Lederer celebrates this heyday of avian illustration in forty artists' profiles, beginning with the work of Flemish painter Frans Snyders in the early 1600s and continuing through to contemporary artists like Elizabeth Butterworth, famed for her portraits of macaws. Stretching its wings across time, taxa, geography, and artistic style - from the celebrated realism of American conservation icon John James Audubon, to Elizabeth Gould's nineteenth-century renderings of museum specimens from the Himalayas, to Swedish artist and ornithologist Lars Jonsson's ethereal watercolors - this book is feathered with art and artists as diverse and beautiful as their subjects. A soaring exploration of our fascination with the avian form, The Art of the Bird is a testament to the ways in which the intense observation inherent in both art and science reveals the mysteries of the natural world.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. FLEMISH BAROQUE ARTISTS 1580–1700
From the early seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries, Flemish painters favoured exotic birds as subjects, especially parrots and peacocks.
FRANS SNYDERS 1579–1657
CAREL PIETERSZ FABRITIUS 1622–54
MELCHIOR D'HONDECOETER 1636–95
2. EARLY ENGLISH ARTISTS 1626–1716
Animal representations were superseded by religious paintings and portraiture, but painters of these genres often worked with animaliers to add creatures to scenes.
FRANCIS BARLOW 1626–1704
JAKOB BOGDANI 1658–1724
MARMADUKE CRADOCK 1660–1716
3. NATURAL HISTORY 1680–1806
Explorers brought back specimens from exotic destinations, popularizing natural history. As new birds were discovered, collected, and named, the science of ornithology came into being with the help of artists who illustrated these new discoveries.
MARK CATESBY 1682/3–1749
GEORGE EDWARDS 1694–1773
AERT SCHOUMAN 1710–92
4. BEFORE ECOLOGY
Natural history focused on the identification of organisms. Naming became more standardized, thoughtful, and detailed, as did the art that accompanied it.
THOMAS BEWICK 1753–1828
LADY ELIZABETH SYMONDS GWILLIM 1763–1807
ALEXANDER WILSON 1766–1813
5. EARLY SCIENTIFIC ILLUSTRATION
Art began to accurately reflect the habitat and behaviour of birds, as observation revealed the subtle details of their physical appearance and their behavioural patterns.
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 1785–1851
PRIDEAUX JOHN SELBY 1788–1867
ELIZABETH GOULD 1804–41
6. IN THE AGE OF DARWIN
The age of Darwin was also the golden age of ornithology. Ideas about how birds' shape, colours and behaviour came to be and what relationships they had were debated.
EDWARD LEAR 1812–88
JOSEPH WOLF 1820–99
WILLIAM MATTHEW HART 1830–1908
7. ART AND SCIENCE OVERLAP
As exploration of the natural world expanded, artists became important observers. Comparing species and varieties required artists to put more than one species on a page, and scientific monographs on specific bird groups became more common.
JOHN GERRARD KEULEMANS 1842–1912
ROBERT RIDGWAY 1850–1929
ARCHIBALD THORBURN 1860–1935
BRUNO LILJEFORS 1860–1939
ALLAN CYRIL BROOKS 1869–1946
LOUIS AGASSIZ FUERTES 1874–1927
8. BROADER APPEAL
The skills of artists, the variety of their styles, their publications, and their reach to communities outside of the art world stoked the public's interest both in birds and art.
CLAUDE GIBNEY FINCH-DAVIES 1875–1920
LILIAN MARGUERITE MEDLAND 1880–1955
NEVILLE WILLIAM CAYLEY 1886–1950
JESSIE ARMS BOTKE 1883–1971
ERIC ENNION 1900–81
ROGER TORY PETERSON 1908–96
9. BIRD ART SUPPORTS BIRDS
When the environmental movement began in earnest in the latter half of the twentieth century, people noticed that bird habitats were disappearing and bird numbers declining. Artists helped to increase public awareness of these environmental issues.
JANET TURNER 1914–88
ARTHUR B SINGER 1917–90
KEITH SHACKLETON 1923–2015
WILLIAM THOMAS COOPER 1934–2015
JAMES FENWICK LANSDOWNE 1937–2008
10. ORNITHOLOGICAL ART EXPANDS
Bird field guides and illustrated books maintain their popularity but artists are also producing novel, creative and bizarre bird art that continues to enthral and inspire.
RAYMOND HARRIS-CHING 1939–
HILARY BURN 1946–
ELIZABETH BUTTERWORTH 1949–
LARS JONSSON 1952–
DAVID ALLEN SIBLEY 1961–