Joseph WOLF after Daniel Giraud ELLIOT
Thaumalia Picta [Golden Pheasant]
23 x 18 inches
A magnificent hand coloured lithograph by Wolf, Smit and Keulemans published as part of Elliot’s famous work, A Monograph of the Phasianidae or Family of the Pheasants, in New York in 1872.
Elliot’s extraordinary work on exotic pheasants ranks as one of the most ambitious and beautiful ornithological studies ever produced. The plates were drawn by Joseph Wolf and Joseph Smit and then lithographed by Smit, Wolf and Keulemans. Elliot (1835-1915) was born into a very wealthy New York family and used his fortune to promote and publish a series of sumptuous books dedicated to the study of animals and birds. His love of natural history involved him in extensive travel throughout Europe and the Middle East where he became an avid collector of ornithological specimens. His collection was considered one of the finest ever compiled and was later acquired by The American Museum of Natural History in New York. Elliot spent much time in London working for the British Ornithologists’ Union and the Zoological Society and it was here that he met and employed Wolf, Smit and Keulemans. Most of the birds that Elliot recorded were only discovered in the nineteenth century and it is hard to imagine the level of excitement that the publication of these plates would have generated in Europe and America. The public were eager to find out more about the riches of the natural world and explorers brought back both illustrations and live specimens to satisfy this demand.