Elliot's Birds of Paradise
In the publication A Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise (1873) Daniël Giraud Elliot brought together 36 hand-colored lithographic plates showing the dramatic and beautiful plumage of Birds of Paradise.
Elliot's print artists of the Birds of Paradise
Elliot (1835-1915) collaborated with print artists Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) and Joseph Smit, (1836-1929) and colorist JD White.
Wolf was specialized in natural history illustration and travelled to England in 1848. He became the preferred illustrator for explorers and naturalists, but only contributed illustrations on a freelance basis.
Smit was a Dutch zoological illustrator. In 1866 he was invited to England where he became a friend of Wolf and contributed to several publications.
Elliot writes of the illustrations:
“The drawings of Mr. Wolf will, I am sure, receive the admirationof those who see them; for, like all that artist’s productions, they cannot be surpassed, if equalled, at the present time. Mr. J. Smit has lithographed the drawings with his usual conscientious fidelity, and in his share of the work has left me nothing to desire. In the colouring of the plates Mr. J.D. White has faithfully followed the originals; and in the difficult portions where it was necessary to produce the metallic hues, he has been very successful”.
Commenting on this collection, author of The Art of Natural History, Peter Dance said:
“The plates in this work, almost as magnificent as the birds they portray, were the fruits of Elliot’s considerable wealth, Wolf’s great artistry and both men’s profound knowledge and love of birds.”
Elliot's artistic work
Elliot’s Birds of Paradise is dedicated to Alfred Russel Wallace, to whom Elliot expresses his indebtedness ‘for nearly all our information regarding the habits of many species’.
Taken from the original illustrations in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the collection A Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise (1873) contains 36 prints after the hand-colored originals.