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Natural History Art, Birds, Peter Brown, New Illustrations of Zoology, Antique Prints, London, 1776

Peter Brown (act. 1766-1791)
Bird Studies
from New Illustrations Of Zoology
B. White, London: 1776
Hand-colored engravings
9.25 x 7.5 inches, plate mark
11.5 x 9 inches, overall
$450 to $750 each

Natural history bird studies from a set mostly featuring exotic species from private and institutional British collections. Many of the images derived from specimens brought back to England from the Cook voyage, and included species from Java, Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), India, the East Indies, South Africa, the Americas, and the Falkland Islands. The artist, Peter Brown asserted that the species had not before been included in engraved bird sets. The set contained 50 hand-colored plates, described as “new, curious and non-descript birds, with a few quadrupeds, reptiles and insects together with a short and scientific description of the same.” Among the birds depicted were wading birds such as the Brasilian bittern and the African umbre; parrots and cockatoos; birds of prey such as the tawny vulture; and exotic species such as a Chinese silk starling, the New Zealand creeper (tui), and yellow shouldered oriole. Each print is rendered in a scientific manner, distinctly 18th century in style, generally shown perched on a patch of ground or short branch.

Product Description Continues Below


Peter Brown was a British natural history artist of Danish descent who spent his career in London, where he was known for his flower and zoological paintings. Brown intended this collection as a supplement to George Edward’s A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743-51), and the images were rendered in a similar style to those of Edwards. Brown based most of the studies on birds in the collections of the British Museum and Royal Society and in private collections belonging to Marmaduke Tunstall, Thomas Pennant, and three men he identifies as Messrs. Lee, Yeats and Moon. Brown also produced several of the plates after drawings that were made of live animals in Java and Ceylon under the supervision of Joan Gideon Loten, the former Dutch governor of Ceylon. Thomas Pennant gave Brown access to those drawings, and wrote most of the text for Brown’s work. Brown was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists and served as botanical painter to the Prince of Wales. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1770 to 1791.

Full publication information from title page: “London: Printed for B. White, at Horace’s Head, Fleet-Street, M.DCC.LXXVI.”

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning and edge wear.


Anker, Jean. Bird Books and Bird Art. 1938. New York: Martino, 1990. p. 72.

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 2, p. 162.

The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Magnificent Color-Plate Ornithology. New York: Sotheby’s, 1989. 57.

Mengel, Robert M. A Catalogue of the Ellis Collection of Ornithological Books in the University of Kansas Libraries. Lawrence: University of Kansas Libraries, 1972. 388.

Nissen, Claus. Die Illustrierten Vogelbucher: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart:1976. 151.

Whittell, Hubert Massey. The Literature of Australian Birds; a History and a Bibliography of Australian Ornithology. Maurizio Marino, Mansfield, CT, 1990. p. 81.

Wood, Casey A. (ed.) An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology Based Chiefly on the Titles in the Blacker Library of Zoology, the Emma Shearer Wood Library of Ornithology, the Bibliotheca Osleriana, and Other Libraries of McGill University, Montreal. London: Humphry Milford, Oxford University Press, 1931. p. 264.

Additional information


18th Century