EYTON, THOMAS; EDWARD LEAR & OTHERS
Ducks: A Collection of Original Watercolour Drawings and Engravings of the Anatidae or Duck Family.
(c.1838) 4to [310 x 235mm], old half calf, gilt morocco title piece, ' Monograph of the Anatidae'. Illustrated with NINETY-EIGHT ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR DRAWINGS by EDWARD LEAR, H. SMITH, ELIZA HARRIET SLANEY, P.J. SELBY, and others. The remainder by THOMAS EYTON. The volume includes 55 Engraved Hand Coloured plates from the works of Seligmann, Oudart, and Buffon, etc.
A Wonderful, Comprehensive Collection of Original Watercolour Drawings of the Duck Tribe, with two original watercolours by Edward Lear, including the original drawing for plate 24 from Thomas Eyton's A Monograph of the Anatidae, or Duck Tribe, and the original drawing by Eyton for the tree duck that bears his name. Many of the watercolours annotated in pencil or signed by the artist. This collection of watercolours of the Duck family was likely part of the massive collection of drawings and engraved books concerning ornithology, formed by Thomas Eyton. He was particularly attracted to the works of H. Smith, Thomas Lewin, Eliza Harriet Slaney (his mother-in-law) and Edward Lear. Although little is known of the artist H. Smith, his paintings are exquisite. One of Smith's paintings, included here, would appear to be the original for Swainson's illustration of the Baikal Teal, a plate in Gray's Fasciculus of the Birds of China. Bernard Quaritch's general catalogue of the late 19th century offered Eyton's extensive library as a collection for the sum of £500. This library had most of the major illustrated books, including many by John Gould. There was also a bound collection of 327 watercolour drawings of foreign birds, many by H. Smith. The watercolour drawings by Edward Lear are particularly attractive. ' He is perhaps the greatest draughtsman of birds in European culture' Philip Hofer, Houghton Library. Lear's watercolour drawings of birds are amongst the finest ever, particularly his volume on Parrots and many of John Gould's works. Thomas Campbell Eyton, was born at Eyton Hall, near Wellington, Salop, September 10, 1809. He took up the study of natural history at an early age, and numbered amongst his friends Agassiz, Asa Gray, Charles Darwin, A R Wallace, and Professor Owen. In 1836 he published a "History of the Rarer British Birds," with beautiful wood-cut illustrations, the work of a local engraver named Marks. In 1838 appeared his "Monograph of the Anatidae, or Duck Tribe. "After coming into the estate in 1855, Eyton built a large museum at Eyton Hall, and amassed here a marvellous library of ornithological works and a collection of skins and skeletons of Birds from all parts of the world. Most of the skeletons were prepared and mounted by his own hands, and he issued in 1858 a catalogue of these, a copy of which is in the Reference Library at Shrewsbury. Later, (1871-8) he published a large work, entitled "Osteologia Avium," illustrated by drawings made from the skeletons in his museum. He also wrote several other works on various subjects. An ardent naturalist, Eyton was always most ready to help any who took an interest in his pursuits, and visitors came from far and near to see him and his collections. His friendship for Darwin continued to the end of his life, though he was strongly opposed to his theory of Natural Selection, and was much vexed at finding some of his own observations on the habits of pigeons used by Darwin in support of that hypothesis. He died on October 25, 1880, and his collections were then dispersed. Eliza Harriet Slaney was the sister of the naturalist and barrister Robert Aglionby Slaney (1791-1862). The Slaney family were very much part of the nineteenth-century scientific establishment; for example, they are mentioned in several letters by members of Darwin's circle. Eliza Harriet Slaney's daughter, Elizabeth Frances married Thomas Eyton. Little is known about Eliza (1804-1893); apart from her beautiful natural history drawings, she is also known to have depicted illustrations of country houses. Her attention to detail and use of colour is of a very high standard, exhibiting great precision and skill. A rare survival in fine condition of a comprehensive work on the Duck Family.
Item nr. 9879
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