John Gerrard Keulemans was the most sought-after bird artist in Europe from roughly 1870 to 1910, esteemed for his high standard of scientific accuracy. Working largely from bird specimens, he had a special talent for creating drawings that were both anatomically correct and aesthetically striking. A skilled lithographer as well, he was unusual among natural history artists in that he generally transferred his own drawings to prints. In his early twenties, the Dutch-born Keulemans was mentored by Dr. Herman Schlegel, a renowned zoologist and director of the natural history museum in Leiden, who brought him on an ornithological expedition to Africa and then hired him to the museum staff and encouraged his artistic development. Soon Keulemans attracted his own commissions for natural history illustrations, mainly from England, a center for study of the zoological specimens arriving from far-flung expeditions. In 1869, he received a major assignment from Richard Bowdler Sharpe of the Zoological Society of London to produce 120 lithographs for his Monograph of the Alcedinidae, or Family of Kingfishers and thereafter pursued his artistic career in Britain, illustrating monographs and scientific journal articles by leading ornithologists. He was one of several well-known artists who contributed to Lord Thomas Lilford’s Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Islands (1885-1897), a seven-volume work contained 421 plates, representing late 19th-century chromolithography at its best. Keulemans illustrated many volumes of the British Museum’s Catalogue of Birds (1874-1898). He also illustrated St. George Jackson Mivart’s A Monograph of the Lories, or Brush-tongued Parrots, composing the Family Loriidae, published in 1896.
St. George Jackson Mivart was an English anatomist and biologist, who published important anatomical studies of the insectivores and carnivores. As a convert to Roman Catholicism, he was prevented from going to Oxford, and attended university at St. Marys, Oscott. In 1862, he was appointed lecturer at St. Marys Hospital medical school and became a fellow of the Zoological Society in 1869. During the 1870s, he spent three years as a biology professor at the Roman Catholic University College, London, and in 1884 became professor of philosophy of natural history at the University of Louvain, Belgium. His anatomical publications include Lessons in Elementary Anatomy (1873), The Cat: an Introduction to the Study of Back-boned Animals (1881) as well as many scientific papers and articles. His philosophical works engaged with the controversy surrounding the theory of evolution. While generally finding the theory valid, he attempted to reconcile it with religious teachings, and explored the differences between humans and animals in his books Genesis of Species (1871), Nature and Thought (1882) and Origin of Human Reason (1889). Nevertheless, in the final year of his life he was excommunicated from the Church for articles published in 1892-93 asserting the validity of certain scientific claims.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Original color bright and vibrant.
Fontana, Elizabeth, ed. “John Gerrard Keulemans.” Beautiful Birds: Masterpieces from the Hill Ornithology Collection, Cornell University Library. June 1999. http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/ornithology/exhibit/exhibit5d.htm (3 June 2002).
Overstreet, Leslie K. “Rothschild: Birds of Laysan.” Smithsonian Institution Libraries. February 2002. http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/nhrarebooks/rothschild/essays/overstreet_rothschild.htm (1 November 2004).
“St. George Jackson Mivart.” LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. 2003, 2004. http://92.1911encyclopedia.org/M/MI/MIVART_ST_GEORGE_JACKSON.htm (2 November 2004).
The Library of H. Bradley Martin: Magnificent Color-Plate Ornithology. New York: Sotheby’s, 1989. pl. 166.