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Birds: The Art of Ornithology [Hardcover]

Jonathan Elphick , Robert Prys-Jones
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Nov 2004
This remarkably beautiful volume gathers together a selection of the most important and vibrant ornithological art from London’s Natural History Museum. Birds tells the remarkable story of the development of ornithological art through the ages, from the earliest images of birds in the Renaissance, through the Age of Exploration, to the present day. Brilliantly reproduced original artworks by such renowned artists as Audubon, Gould, MacGillivray, Thorburn, and Wolfe are included.
The lively accompanying text tells the story of how ornithological art grew out of the naturalistic tradition of European painting to become a genre on its own, where the artist’s focus on aesthetic appeal was married to the scientist’s need for precision and detail.
Many of the works reproduced in this volume have never before been published. The detailed text interweaves science, art history, biography, exploration, and travel to paint a vast and wondrous picture of the bygone world of artist-scientists, exotic birds, and faraway lands. It makes a perfect gift for anyone who loves fine prints and drawings or has an interest in nature or birding.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scriptum (8 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190268639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902686394
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 26.5 x 28 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,535,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Birds - The Art of Ornithology 6 Aug 2009
Sometimes with the endless stream of new publications it is possible to overlook a work that should be reviewed. This large-format book was published nearly five years ago and because of its significance it is being included now.

Most people think of The Natural History Museum as a place that only contains stuffed animals, but away from the public areas it is also home to a million books, and even more importantly a collection of half a million natural history illustrations. For obvious reasons it is not possible to make these widely available for public inspection, but through this book we are allowed an insight to some of the gems in the collection that demonstrate how bird art has developed over the years.

This is a sumptuous publication printed on fine paper with excellent depth of colour. In most cases it includes images of large paintings that have by necessity been reduced in size, but it also goes to the other extreme by taking some small illustrations and enlarging them.

Among the artists featured are a number that I had never heard of before, and among my favourite illustrations are some for which the artist is simply not known. A great example of this is the Temminck's Tragopan that adorns the book's cover.

Four sections analyse each of the main periods in which bird art developed in a particular direction. The early engravers prior to 1800 are treated in some detail. In a way we should perhaps admire their work more than those who followed as they had few tools and were the trailblazers of ornithological illustration. Personally I would have liked to see more of Thomas Bewick's work here, but I suppose you could argue that his work has been profiled fully elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the art of ornithology 24 April 2009
This is another superb book from the Natural History Museum that deserves a 5 star plus rating.It deals with bird art from prehistory to the present date.
The first section entitled beginnings records bird art murals and wall art that goes back thousands of years up ti the time of of wood cuts.
Part 2 deals with the period 1650-1800 the time of engravers and exolorers.Some of the painpings are a bit fanciful as tyey were painted from oral description but the vast majority are remarkably accurate.
The third part deals with the early lithographs and the books of Aodubon and others in the years 1800-1850.
!850-1990 saw the golden age of bird art in lithographs, books and exhibitions which would never be repeated.
Part5 records the age of transition (1890- the present)that saw the end of lavish books and more emphasis on individual paintings of birds.The introduction of photography and especially the digital camera has taken its toll on bird art.
The illustrations are outstanding and the text first class.The book is to be highly recommended
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful reference book 4 Feb 2010
By Brooke Sheldon - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I am a painter of murals and decorative finishes. For the past 20 years, we've been collecting reference for our work. I have a lot of bird books, but this has material I've never seen. I have not read the text so I can't comment on it, but the reproductions are wonderful and varied. A worthwhile addition to your library of you love birds.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books in my Collection 5 Jan 2010
By Charles M. Marsteller - Published on Amazon.com
This book is one of the best in my collection! It is lavishly illustrated, reflecting the works of all the major illustrators for the past (almost) 500 years. If you are a fan of the wonderfully idiosyncratic artistry of the early illustrators, this book, with its hundreds of color reproductions, is the book for you.
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