Owls of extreme beauty

Descourtilz, J. T.

Ornithologie brésilienne. Ou histoire des oiseaux du Brésil, remarquables par leur plumage, leur chant ou leurs habitudes. Plate 5. Otus clamator, Strix perlata, and Strix pumila. [Striped owl, pearl-spotted owlet, and pygmy owl].

Published 1852
Item ID 76771

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Rio de Janeiro, Thomas Reeves, [1852]. Folio (62.0 x 45.0 cm). Chromolithographed plate with additional fine, original hand-colouring.

The French ornithologist, botanist and natural history illustrator Jean Theodore Descourtilz (1796-1855) was responsible for both the magnificent plates and the informative text. Some sources claim he was born in 1798, which may well be correct. Descourtilz "... arrived in Brazil in about 1826, [He] was an interested and meticulous observer, concerned about the accuracy of his notes which concisely described the habits and appearance of each species. His poetic and flowery text was in keeping with the period, and was invariably accompanied by colour plates of the species studied" (Wikipedia). He died suddenly in 1855. This work depicts some of the most spectacular tropical birds in the world - many from the Amazon region - including toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds. This plate shows three owl species, viz. the striped owl, the pearl-spotted owlet, and the wonderful pygmy owl. Borba de Moraes and Zimmer state that an English edition was published in 1856, with plates printed in London by Waterlow & Sons, chromolithographers. However, Waterlow plates have also been found combined with the 1852 French text, and probably all plates were printed by Waterlow. Very weak toning and minimal, faint spotting and creasing at the edges, otherwise an exceptionally fine, clean plate. Borba de Moraes I, pp. 260-261; Nissen IVB, 236; Nissen ZBI,1088 (part); Sitwell, Fine Bird Books, p. 90; Zimmer, p. 166. Neither in Anker nor in Ronsil, Bibliographie Ornithologique Française.

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