The most sought-after Knorr bird from these series is an engraving of a domesticated white or silver gyrfalcon perched on the leather-gloved hand of the hunter. To the right is an illustration of bird’s head in an elaborate Dutch hood decorated with red fabric, ribbons and feathers. Falconry is a sport dating to medieval times. A bird of prey – usually a falcon or hawk – was used by the huntsman to hunt its natural prey. The Dutch hood was developed by Northern European falconers to close off a bird’s field of vision in order to keep it from becoming frightened or aggressive. It is thought that one of the derivations of the word “hookwinked” is from falcon hoods.Some of the prints have dedications to patrons and collectors involved in the production of the prints or providing access to specimens from their collections. Those dedicated “Ex Museo Excell. Dn. D. Christ. Jac. Trew. S. S” refer to the collection of Christoph Jacob Trew, a physician and botanist and major patron of natural history artists and works. Trew is most famous for his support of botanical artist Georg Dionysius Ehret in publishing two of the finest 18th century botanical sets: Plantae Selectae and Hortus Nitidissimis. Those credited to the “Ex Museo Mulleriano” refer to the zoologist and professor Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller (1725 – 1776).
Georg Wolfgang Knorr was a German paleontologist, as well as a painter, draftsman, engraver, collector and art dealer. At age 18, he became a copperplate engraver for Leonhard Blanc, working with Martin Tyroff on the illustrations for Jacob Scheuchzer’s Physica Sacra (1731). Later he engraved portraits, landscapes, geological formations, and animal studies after Dürer and the Kilian family. In the second half of the 18th century, Nuremberg overtook Augsburg as the center of production for fine natural history books in Germany. There, Knorr published scientific works distinguished by their beautiful hand-colored plates. His works include two posthumous productions: Deliciae Naturae Selectae Oder Auserlefenes Naturalien Cabinet (1766-67), and Les Délices Des Yeux et de L’espirit, ou Collection Generale des Differentes Espèces de Coquillages (1764-73).
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall toning and light edge wear.
Dance, S. Peter. The Art of Natural History: Animal Illustrators and their Work. London: 1978. pp. 78 and 217.
Lanckoronska, Maria and Richard Öhler. Buchillustration Des XVIII. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland, Osterreich Und Der Schweitz: Dritter Teil. Leipzig: Die Spamer, 1934. I, 46.
Nissen, Claus. Die Zoologische Buchillustration: ihre Bibliographie und Geschichte. Stuttgart: 1969-78. 2227.