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Natural History Art, Birds, George Edwards, Seligmann Edition, Antique Prints, 1770s

George Edwards (1694-1773) (artist)
Johann Sebastian Leitner (1715-1795) (engraver)
Johann Michael Seligmann (1720-1762) (editor)
from Recueil de divers Oiseaux étrangers et peu communs, qui se trouvent dans les ouvrages de MM Edwards et Catesby [Collection of Various Foreign and Little-Known Birds, which are found in the works of Messieurs Edwards and Catesby]
Nuremberg: 1770-73
Hand-colored engravings
16 x 10 inches, overall
10.5 x 8 inches, plate mark
$350 to $850 each

Le Tringa au pie de Foulque, Tab XCI [The Red Necked Phalarope, Plate 91]
Le Cigne Sauvage, Tab XLV [The Wild Swan, Plate 45]
L’Aigle a la queue blanche, Tab I [The White-Tailed Eagle, Plate 1]
Le Colibri ventre noir Male et Femelle, Tab LXXI [The Black breasted Hummingbird, Male and Female, Plate 71]
Le petit Grimpereau, Tab LI [The Little Creeper, Plate 51]
Le Grimpereau du muraille de Surinam, &c., Tab XXXVI [The Wall Creeper of Surinam and the … Butterfly from China, Drawn from Life of Their Natural Sizes, Plate 36]

Product description continues below.


A varied selection of birds, including aquatic and birds of prey, and others shown amidst flying butterflies from Seligmann’s French edition of George Edwards’ A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, and of some other Rare and Undescribed Animals, Quadrapeds, Reptiles, Fishes, Insects, &c., one of the most comprehensive of all English 18th-century natural history works. Edwards rendered animals in a scientific manner, distinctly 18th-century in conception and style, generally personified yet retaining some characteristics of the natural habitat.  The birds are shown perched on branches. Species names are printed in Latin and French at the bottom.

George Edwards, born in Essex, England, worked as Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians while creating his hugely successful series of colored drawings of animals and birds. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society and later elected a Fellow. Edwards studied art in Holland, but found his true vocation in 1718, when he traveled to Norway and studied the birds who lived in the rocks and precipices there. With the materials he had collected, he applied himself to the study of natural history, making colored drawings of birds and animals. He continued his studies in Holland and Brabant, and was appointed in 1733 as Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians. There he oversaw an important collection, which made him one of the most eminent ornithologists of the day.

Johann Sebastian Leitner was a Nuremberg engraver, who engraved the works of Georg Knorr, George Edwards and others.

Johann Michael Seligmann was an engraver and art dealer in Nuremberg, Germany, a major 18th-century center for art publishing. He also engraved and published works by other prominent natural history artists, including Mark Catesby and Georg Dionysus Ehret.

Condition: Generally very good, with only minor toning and wear. Large sheets, with original disbound holes far margin. Original colors rich and vibrant.


Redgrave, Samuel. A Dictionary of Artists of the English School: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists. London: Longmans, Green, and Col., 1874. p. 134. (Edwards)

Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan ‘s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 3, p. 204. (Leitner)

Additional information


18th C. Birds