We are delighted to offer a selection of bird prints from the increasingly rare & treasured A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743-1751) and Gleaning of Natural History (1758-1764) by George Edwards. Initially published as two separate works, they are now considered as one, with 362 plates in all, with 318 of birds & the balance of various mammals, fish & insects. It was heralded as the most important of all Bird Books, both from an artistic and an ornithological perspective, and time has certainly not dimmed either its luster or appeal.
George Edwards was an English draughtsman and a skilled observer of birds and one of the most prominent ornithologists of his day. He worked as Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians, where he was later elected a fellow, and was honored with the Gold Medal of the Royal Society. As the Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians, he oversaw a library of 8,000 volumes. The small honorarium he received for this post liberated him to pursue his ornithological studies and drawings. He died in West Ham, which was also his birthplace, in 1773.
Natural History and Gleanings was illustrated for the first time many foreign species often drawn from live specimens held in captivity in London. Edwards etched his own plates and then hand colored several copies before supervising others in the coloring. The result is a work of superb skill and breathtaking color that remains ever popular and is now increasingly rare. Such was the impact of Natural History and Gleanings, that Edwards is considered to have almost single-handedly popularized the art of bird and animal illustration, and is thus known as “The Father of British Ornithology.”