Elliot's Family of the Ant Thrushes
Daniel Giraud Elliot’s publication A Monograph of the Pittidae or Family of the Ant Thrushes (1861-1863) includes 31 plates, 24 by Elliot, four by Oudart, and one each from Maubert, Mesnel and one unsigned by Tholey.
The collection is often regarded as the pinnacle of Elliot’s artistic work.
Elliot's print artists of the Ant Thrushes
Elliot (1835-1915) chose to work with print artist Paul Louis Oudart (1796–1850) on this collection. As a French artist, Oudart was involved in many zoological illustrations in works related to French expeditions.
Sadly Oudart died after completing only four plates. Oudart illustrated: Nepal Pitta (plate 003), Noisy Pitta (plate 009), Blue Pitta (plate 013) and a fourth one.
The Angola Pitta (plate 005) was illustrated by French artist Édouard Maubert (1806-1979) and the New Guinea Pitta by French artist Albin Mesnel (1830-1875). One illustration of the Caerulean Pitta (plate 002) is unsigned by CP Tholey.
Rather than search for another artist, Elliot created the majority of the remaining drawings himself. In the preface, Elliot described how he “felt compelled to turn draughtsman”.
As a result, this collection has particular importance and is often regarded as the pinnacle of Elliot’s artistic work.
Elliot's artistic work
A Monograph of the Pittidae or Family of the Ant Thrushes was Elliot’s first publication with his own illustrations. He includes in every plate a showy flower, usually in shades that further enhance the vividness of each page. Elliot was able to portray the pittas with a tropical exuberance and animation as they variously pursue a shiny beetle, recoil from a pink-and-black snake, or take wing after a fly.
Taken from the original illustrations in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the collection A Monograph of the Pittidae or Family of the Ant Thrushes (1861-1863) contains 31 prints after the hand-colored originals.