(1812 – 1888)

Parrots, Toucans, Birds of Europe

One of the greatest ornithological artists of his era, the multi-talented Edward Lear was a self-taught naturalist and painter who later became famous as a writer of nonsense and limericks. Lear¹s exacting and masterly skill as an artist was employed by many major publishers of nineteenth century English ornithologies and natural histories. Born outside London in 1812, Lear was the twentieth child of Jeremiah Lear, a well-to-do London stockbroker. In 1816, Jeremiah went bankrupt, and Edward was raised primarily by his elder sister, Ann, who provided classical studies and taught him to draw from nature. At the age of fourteen, Lear began his career as an artist.

About 1828, Lear began work as a zoological draughtsman, gaining employment at the Zoological Society and working with, among other notables, Prideaux John Selby. It was there he also met John Gould, the Society¹s taxidermist, who was to become one of the great nineteenth century naturalist publishers. Lear drew sixty-eight plates and many of the foregrounds for Gould¹s Birds of Europe (1832-1837) and also contributed nine of the thirty-four plates that comprised Gould¹s A Monograph of the Family of Toucans. The plates that Lear contributed are among the finest of those works.

Lear’s work is distinguished by the fact that he was the first bird artist to draw from living examples, capturing not only the precise details of the birds he painted, but also individual bird¹s unique character traits. These rare, beautifully hand-colored plates are signed by Lear in the lithographic stone.

Every nuance of Lear¹s tour de force lithographic technique is captured in the Oppenheimer Field Museum Edition prints. Each print is on acid-free, cotton rag watercolor paper imported from England.


Strictly limited to 500 numbered sets.

For pricing inquires, please contact the Audubon House at info@audubonhouse.org


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