‘Ptilonorhynchus Holosericeus’ n.d. - Ian Potter Museum of Art

‘Ptilonorhynchus Holosericeus’ n.d.

During an eleven-year career as a sketcher, painter and lithographer, Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841) composed and produced more than 650 hand-coloured lithographic plates of birds. Without her efforts The Birds of Australia, a lavishly illustrated seven-volume survey of the continent’s diverse ornithological wonders, authored by her husband John Gould, would not have been possible. In 1838, the couple set sail from England and undertook two years of intensive field research, returning with sketches, descriptions and specimens for 681 species, almost half of which were new to the eyes of European naturalists. Tragically, Elizabeth died the following year, just as the initial volumes of this seminal publication were released. John Gould employed Edward Lear, Waterhouse Hawkins and H.C. Richter to complete illustrations for the remaining volumes. Whilst The Birds of Australia includes numerous attributions to ‘J & E Gould’, many scholars feel that Elizabeth’s exhaustive work to produce the preliminary sketches and compositions that the other artist’s illustrations were derived from has not been adequately recognised.

Elizabeth Gould 1804—1841
John Gould 1804—1881
Charles Joseph Hullmandel 1789—1850

Ptilonorhynchus Holosericeus  n.d.
sheet: 54.5cm (height) x 69.5cm (width)
mount: 101.3cm (height) x 73.5cm (width)
The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of the Society of
Collectors 1951