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Special FeatureNature as seen through Gould's eyesBirds found in JapanThe strange habits of birdsExtinct birds and scarce birdsThe Peak of Perfection in Hand-Coloured Lithography
The Peak of Perfection in Hand-Coloured Lithography
In order to emphasise the gorgeous nature of his works, Gould tended to choose as his subject birds with bright, primary colours or birds with a metallic glitter. These are found in A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans; A Monograph of the Trogonidae, or Family of Trogons; A Monograph of the Odontophorinae, or Partridges of America; and A Monograph of the Trochilidae, or Family of Humming-birds.
The Toucans found in South America possess large colourful beaks, and their plumage is often in dazzling combinations of colours which may surprise a costume designer. The Trogons found in South America, Tropical Asia, and Africa have bright-coloured feathers with fine hairs like combed silk (thus their Japanese name "kinu-bane" meaning "silk-feathered") which appear to glitter in the light. The Partridges of North America are not brightly coloured, but the complicated, regular patterns of their plumage, peculiar to the pheasant family, must have been a challenge to the illustrators. The Hummingbirds found in South America and parts of North America, with their beautiful plumage with metallic shine, strange appearances, and interesting habits, were of course an ideal subject for Gould.
Gould's penchant for beautiful birds is also reflected in his selections for The Birds of Australia, The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands, and The Birds of Asia. For instance he chose many species with beautiful plumage from the large parrots, beautiful parakeets of Australia, the paradise birds of New Guinea, and the pheasants of Asia to emphasise the splendour of his illustrations.