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.

  • Gould Scientific name
    Halcyon omnicolor
    Scientific name
    Halcyon cyanoventris
    Gould name
    Many-coloured Kingfisher
    Name
    Javan Kingfisher
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of Asia Vol.1
  • Gould Scientific name
    Lophorhina superba
    Scientific name
    Lophorina superba
    Gould name
    Superb Bird of Paradise
    Name
    Superb Bird-of-paradise
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands including many new species recently discovered in Australia Vol.1
  • Gould Scientific name
    Cinnyris mysorensis
    Scientific name
    Leptocoma sericea
    Gould name
    Mysore-Island Black Sun-bird
    Name
    Black Sunbird
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands including many new species recently discovered in Australia Vol.3
  • Gould Scientific name
    Pitta cyanonota
    Scientific name
    Erythropitta erythrogaster
    Gould name
    Blue-backed Pitta
    Name
    Red-bellied Pitta
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands including many new species recently discovered in Australia Vol.4
  • Gould Scientific name
    Cacatua ophthalmica
    Scientific name
    Cacatua ophthalmica
    Gould name
    Blue-eyed Cockatoo
    Name
    Blue-eyed Cockatoo
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands including many new species recently discovered in Australia Vol.5
  • Gould Scientific name
    Calyptorhynchus banksii
    Scientific name
    Calyptorhynchus banksii
    Gould name
    Banksian Cockatoo
    Name
    Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of Australia Vol.5
  • Gould Scientific name
    Botaurus stellaris
    Scientific name
    Botaurus stellaris
    Gould name
    Bittern
    Name
    Eurasian Bittern
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of Great Britain Vol.4
  • Gould Scientific name
    Paradisea decora
    Scientific name
    Paradisaea decora
    Gould name
    Grey-chested Bird of Paradise
    Name
    Goldie's Bird-of-paradise
    Book name, Volume
    The Birds of New Guinea and the adjacent Papuan Islands including many new species recently discovered in Australia Vol.1
  • Gould Scientific name
    Phaëthornis eurynome
    Scientific name
    Phaethornis eurynome
    Gould name
    Eurynome Hermit
    Name
    Scale-throated Hermit
    Book name, Volume
    A Monograph of the Trochilidae,or Family of Humming-birds Vol.1
  • Gould Scientific name
    Loddigesia mirabilis
    Scientific name
    Loddigesia mirabilis
    Gould name
    Marvellous Humming-Bird
    Name
    Marvelous Spatuletail
    Book name, Volume
    A Monograph of the Trochilidae,or Family of Humming-birds Vol.3
  • Gould Scientific name
    Eugenia imperatrix
    Scientific name
    Heliodoxa imperatrix
    Gould name
    Empress Humming Bird
    Name
    Empress Brilliant
    Book name, Volume
    A Monograph of the Trochilidae,or Family of Humming-birds Vol.4
  • Gould Scientific name
    Erythronota edwardi
    Scientific name
    Amazilia edward
    Gould name
    Wilson's Erythronote
    Name
    Snowy-bellied Hummingbird
    Book name, Volume
    A Monograph of the Trochilidae,or Family of Humming-birds Vol.5
  • Gould Scientific name
    Diphlogæna hesperus
    Scientific name
    Coeligena iris
    Gould name
    Ecuadorean Rainbow
    Name
    Rainbow Starfrontlet
    Book name, Volume
    A Monograph of the Trochilidae,or Family of Humming-birds Vol.Supplement