Elliot's Family of the Grouse
In the publication A Monograph of the Tetraoninae, or Family of the Grouse (1865) Daniël Giraud Elliot brought together 27 hand-colored lithographic plates. The collection includes 25 plates by Joseph Wolf plus a further two plates depicting eggs, drawn by William S. Morgan.
Elliot's print artists of the Family of the Grouse
Elliot (1835-1915) collaborated with print artists Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) and William S. Morgan.
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.
Unfortunatale, very little is known about illustrator Morgan.
The decline of the species
The publication contains all the species known to ornithologists at the time. The numbers of many of these species were already in decline, leading Elliot to predict in the Preface that some would soon become extinct from North America.
“In choosing a family of birds for a second Monograph, I was induced to make a selection of the Tetraoninae, not only on account of their varied forms and interesting habits, but also for the important part they bear toward man’s comfort and happiness. Although not brilliant in plumage of varied colors, like the Pittidae, still few could witness the graceful forms, erect carriage, and gallant bearing of the members of this family, without having their admiration excited. The majority of the species are inhabitants of North America, and many of them, through the continued persecution to which they are subjected, and the want of a rigid enforcement of proper laws for their protection, are rapidly disappearing from our land, in a comparatively short space of time to become extinct; and this was an additional reason to write their history while they were still to be found, and their habits observed in their native wilds.”
Taken from the original illustrations in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the collection A Monograph of the Tetraoninae, or Family of the Grouse (1865) contains 27 prints after the hand-colored originals.