Elliot's Family of the Pheasants
In the publication A Monograph of the Phasianidae or A Family of Pheasants (1870-1872) Daniël Giraud Elliot brought together 81 lithographic plates. Print artists were Joseph Wolf, Joseph Smit and John Gerrard Keulemans.
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Elliot regarded the pheasant family important to humanity
Elliot was intrigued by the appearance and behaviour of pheasants in his collection.
In each study, the specimen is placed in its natural habitat, to show to full effect and brilliant splendour of its plumage. The magnificent size and beautiful coloring of the plates clearly demonstrate the importance which Elliot attached to the pheasant family.
Of all the families in the ornithological system, Elliot regarded the pheasant family as the one most vital to the human race, writing: “[…] no one is so important to the human race, containing within it the species that afford food for thousands of mankind, and also those which are the original source of all the domestic poultry met with throughout the civilized world.”
Elliot was also impressed by the “[…] extreme attractiveness of the birds composing the family […]”
Joseph Wolf, Joseph Smit and John Gerrard Keulemans
Elliot (1835-1915) collaborated with three famous print artists: the German artist Joseph Wolf and his Dutch friend Joseph Smit, and the Dutch bird illustrator John Gerrard Keulemans.
Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) 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.
Joseph Smit (1836-1929) was born in Lisse, Holland. He was a zoological illustrator and received his first commission from Hermann Schlegel, a German ornithologist. In 1866 he was invited to England. Smit became friends with Wolf and collaborated with him on several publications for both Elliot and John Gould.
Joseph Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912) was born in Rotterdam, Holland, but worked and lived chiefly in England, working on most of the important ornithological monographs and periodicals published between about 1870 and his death in London in 1912.
Taken from the original illustrations in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the collection A Monograph of the Phasianidae or A Family of Pheasants (1870-1872) contains 81 prints after the hand-colored originals.