John Gould

The Birds of Great Britain

Complete set

The Birds of Great Britain

In The Birds of Great Britain, Gould depicted detailed scenes including nests, chicks and eggs; scenes that were often ignored by other bird artists of the time who only focussed on adult birds.

Gould wrote: “I also felt that there was an opportunity of greatly enriching the work by giving figures of the young of many of the species of various genera.”

In the introduction to the collection, Gould writes: “every sky with its varied tints and every feather of each bird were colored by hand; and when it is considered that nearly two hundred and eighty thousand illustrations in the present work have been so treated, it will most likely cause some astonishment to those who give the subject a thought.”

Gould published the collection himself, producing 750 copies, in 25 parts. As the complete work included 367 illustrations, all hand colored, this was a huge undertaking.

We have all 5 volumes including the 367 illustrations available.

Own your own collection

We are delighted to give you the opportunity to own your own Gould collection, created directly from the original editions of these acclaimed masterpieces.

With age-resistant white etching paper and archival ink; the prints are designed to resist fading for 100 years, giving you a lifetime of enjoyment from this extraordinary collection.

A complete set of volume 1 includes: 

  • 1 title page
  • 1 content page
  • 37 prints after the hand-colored originals
  • handcrafted Solander Box embossed with gold lettering. 
  • certificate of authenticity

Publication: The Birds of Great Britain

Author: John Gould (1804-1881)

Print artists: John Gould, Henry Constantine Richter, Joseph Wolf, William Hart

Published: London, 1873

A complete set includes: 
1 title page
1 content page with all titles of the prints
all prints from one volume after hand-colored lithographs
Certificate of authenticity
Solander box

Volume I:  37 prints
Volume II: 77 prints
Volume III: 72 prints
Volume IV: 94 prints
Volume V: 87 prints

Casing: The complete set (one volume) will be cased in an elegant handcrafted Solander Box covered in special linen embossed with golden lettering. You may choose your own color of the boxes and your own lettering.

Size of the prints: 22 x 15 inches (56 x 38 cm).

Durability: To ensure the durability, the giclée’s are printed on acid-free white etching paper (270 g/m2) with archival ink.

Quality: These prints were  photographed using the latest technology and reproduced at the original plate size. Printed in the highest possible resolution, these prints are virtually indistinguishable from the originals when glazed and framed.

Limited Edition: The edition will be limited to 50 sets, numbered 1/50 to 50/50, signed and stamped with a blind embossing.

Delivery time: Because the Solander box will be made on demand by a professional bookbinder please allow a delivery time of 3-4 weeks.

Often referred to as the ‘father of bird study in Australia’, the English ornithologist John Gould created several esteemed collections of bird illustrations over his long career. He was the most prolific artist and publisher of ornithological subjects of all time.

In nineteenth century Europe Gould’s name was as well known as Audubon’s was in North America. But unlike Audubon, whose life’s work focused on one region, Gould traveled widely and employed other artists to help create his lavish hand-colored lithographic folios.

Nearly 3,000 lithographs were created during the span of his long ​career.

Although he was not the artist of the illustrations within his collections, it was Gould’s vision, dedication and supervision that led to the production of so many important works.

During his career he carefully documented birds and habitats in a range of environments from Australia to the Himalayas.

Born in Lyme Regis, West Dorset, Gould followed in his father’s footsteps to become a gardener. He secured a position as foreman in the Royal Gardens of Windsor in 1818.

Following his training at Windsor from 1818 to 1824, Gould later became a gardener at Ripley Castle in Yorkshire. Alongside his garden duties, Gould developed a passion for taxidermy – establishing his own taxidermist business in London.

Perhaps his most notable commission was for the stuffing of a pet giraffe for King George IV in 1826.

In 1827, Gould’s expertise gained him a role at the Zoological Society of London as the museum’s first curator and preserver. This position gave Gould access to several of Europe’s leading naturalists and he was often among the first to see the exotic new collections of birds given to the society.

Following the arrival of a collection of exotic bird skins from the Himalayas in 1830, Gould began the first of his monograph collections.

The book A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains, gained instant popularity and Gould followed this success with collections on the birds of Europe, Asia, Australia and New Guinea. He also created volumes dedicated to toucans, hummingbirds, birds-of-paradise and in a departure from feathered creatures; kangaroos.

Although he did not create the artwork for his collections himself, Gould worked with several established artists including his wife Elizabeth Gould, the poet and illustrator Edward Lear and German artist Joseph Wolf.

A notable point in Gould’s career came when he provided his expertise and guidance to Charles Darwin. In 1837, having returned from his second voyage aboard HMS Beagle, Darwin presented the mammal and bird specimens collected during his trip to the Zoological Society of London.

Gould was given the responsibility of identifying the birds which would later become known as ‘Darwin’s finches’. Gould’s knowledge provided vital information that helped Darwin develop his theory of evolution.

Over his lifetime, Gould created over 40 volumes of work, with over 3,000 colored plates, providing amazing insights into previously undiscovered species. He continued to work up until his death in 1881.

Limited Editions

We know how special it is to own a piece from your favorite artist; a piece that will be a real talking point in your home.

That is why each edition is limited to just 50 prints. These are numbered from 1/50 to 50/50 and are signed and stamped with a blind embossing.

So when you choose prints from Heritage Prints, you know your artwork has been printed with great care and in limited numbers, making it a print only a select few will own

Solander Box

When investing in a complete set, our Solander box is the perfect place to store your collection.

The box is covered with library buckram cloth and is fitted with a card holder to the spine with attaché fasteners.

This elegant, high-quality box is designed especially for keeping your prints safe and in perfect condition – yet you can still easily look at them whenever you wish.

Certification

When you invest in our prints or collections, you will receive a certificate of authenticity.

This provides a lasting record of your artwork and gives you valuable certification if you ever wish to sell or bestow your collection in the future.

Gould - The Birds of Great Britain, vol I - View all prints below