|Method||Lithograph with original hand colouring|
|Published||Printed by R. & A. Taylor for Baldwin Cradock, and Joy 1820-23|
|Dimensions||Image 147 x 110 mm Sheet 222 x 136 mm|
Zoological illustrations by William Swainson (1789-1855) an English ornithologist, entomologist, conchologist and most notably an artist.
He was born in London, the eldest son of John Timothy Swainson, an original fellow of the Linnean Society, the world's oldest extant biological society.
William joined the Army Commissariat and was deployed to Malta and Sicily and studied the ichthyology of western Sicily. He was forced by ill health to return to England and followed in his father's footsteps to become a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1815.
The following year he travelled to Brazil and amassed a collection of over 20,000 insects, 760 bird skins and other specimens. Apart from adding to the common and scientific names of many species, it is the quality of his illustrations that he is best remembered for.
His friend William Elford Leach, head of Zoology at the British Museum encouraged him to experiment with lithography for his book Zoological Illustrations (1820-23).
Swainson became the first illustrator and naturalist to use lithography, which was a relatively cheap means of production and did not require an engraver.
He began publishing many illustrated works, most serially. Subscribers received and paid for small sections of the books as they came out so that the cash flow was constant and could be reinvested in the preparation of subsequent parts.
As book orders arrived, the monochrome lithography prints were hand coloured according to colour reference images, known as 'pattern plates', which were produced by Swainson himself. It was his early adoption of this new technology and his natural skill of illustration that in large part led to his fame. These plates are from the edition published between 1820-1821.
Includes original accompanying text