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Natural History Art, Birds, Selby, Ducks, British Ornithology, Antique Print Pair, London, 1824 to 1834


Prideaux John Selby (1788-1867) (artist and editor)
Prideaux John Selby, Admiral Robert Mitford and Sir William Jardine (after)
Prideaux John Selby, Admiral Robert Mitford and W. H. Lizars (engravers)
Ruddy Duck, Vol 2, Pl. 48B
Common Shell-Drake, Vol 2, Pl. 48
from Illustrations of British Ornithology
Edinburgh: William Lizars, 1824-1834
Hand-colored etchings
19 x 23.5 inches, sight size average approximate
27 x 31.5 inches, framed
$2,200, the pair

Pair of natural history studies of ducks, one of a ruddy duck and one of a common sheldrake, also known as a shelduck. Each is shown perched on a small, flat rock. These prints are mounted in walnut burl frames.

Prideaux John Selby is considered one of the best ever bird artists, together with John James Audubon, his contemporary, and John Gould. Like these artists, he showed the birds with scientific accuracy in natural settings, while also composing the images with great decorative appeal. Like Audubon, he produced images life sized. Selby distinguished himself, however, by engraving many of the plates for his large folio set himself.

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These distinguishing features of Selby‚Äôs works were emphasized by scholar Christine E. Jackson: “The cool, classical quality of Selby’s plates belongs to an age of elegance and could never have been achieved by the Victorian John Gould. Selby’s bird figures were the most accurate delineation of British birds to that date, and the liveliest. After so many books with small, stiff bird portraits, this new atlas with life-sized figures and more relaxed drawing was a great achievement in the long history of bird illustration.”

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


Jackson, Christine Elisabeth. Bird Etchings: The Illustrators and Their Books, 1655-1855,Ithaca: CornellUniversity Press, 1985.

Additional information


19th Century