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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A MONUMENTAL DISCOVERY: THREE MAGNIFICENT ORIGINAL WATERCOLORS IN THE ARADER GALLERIES COLLECTION BY WILLIAM MATTHEW HART WHICH SERVE AS THE TEMPLATES FOR THREE PUBLISHED LITHOGRAPHS - ONE IN JOHN GOULD’S BIRDS OF ASIA AND TWO IN RICHARD BOWLDER SHARP'S BIRDS OF PARIDISE- $75,000 FOR EACH WATERCOLOR







Oriolus... watercolor on paper by William Hart 






Oriolus... lithograph... appears in volume 2 of Gould's Birds of Asia.







Diphyllodes... watercolor on paper by William Hart







Diphyllodes... lithograph... appears in volume 1 of Richard Bowlder Sharpe Birds of Paradise.







Cnemophilus... watercolor on paper by William Hart 







Cnemophilus... lithograph, appears in volume 2 of Richard Bowlder Sharpe Birds of Paradise

Three Original Watercolors by William Hart for Richard Bowdler Sharpe's Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise, published in London: 1891-8. The talented natural history painter William Hart was the artistic genius behind the lavish illustrations for Richard Bowdler Sharpe's splendid work on the Birds of Paradise, which is one of the last of the great illustrated bird books. Sharpe was the curator of birds at the British Museum, and he had been a friend and protegé of John Gould since the great ornithologist had encountered Sharpe as a boy collecting birds along the river Thames. With his book on the Birds of Paradise, Sharpe was enlarging and refining Gould's Birds of New Guinea (1875-88). Gould had been fascinated by these most exotic and fantastic of birds. Prized by traders for the decorative value of their colorful feathers, Birds of Paradise have long enthralled ornithologists with their strange and complex behavior, and the incredible variety of their plumage and markings. Sharpe shared this enthusiasm with his mentor, and they collaborated on the Birds of New Guinea, which was completed shortly after Gould's death. Unlike that publication, however, Sharpe's monograph focuses exclusively on these splendid birds. Many of the specimens in this work were never seen by Gould, reflecting the further exploration of New Guinea in the years following his death. Sharpe selected William Hart to create the original watercolors for these volumes. A veteran of numerous Gould projects, the prolific and highly accomplished Hart was especially famed for having produced the elegant originals for Gould's remarkable monograph on Hummingbirds. The noted expert on ornithological art, S. Sitwell, describes Sharpe's Monograph of the Paradiseidae as "the climax to Gould's life work." Sharpe -- Gould's most devoted protegé -- and Hart -- his most accomplished artist -- drew on Gould's incomparable legacy of research and craftsmanship to create a splendid tribute to Gould, and his favorite birds. The lithographs from this monumental book are rare in themselves, but the original watercolors for this splendid project very rarely become available, especially examples of such outstanding quality as these.

John Gould's The Birds of Asia, Large folio, contemporary green morocco gilt with broad gilt borders. Seven volumes: 530 hand-colored lithographs after John Gould, H. C. Richter, Josef Wolf and W. Hart, First edition: London, 1850-1883. One of Gould's greatest achievements, the Birds of Asia was in production longer than any of his other work, taking thirty-four years for the appearance of its thirty-five parts.  The ornithologist was fascinated by the diversity of the exotic, colorful species of Asia, and he conveyed his enchantment to viewers, creating one of his most monumental and magnificent sets.  For the preparation of The Birds of Asia, Gould’s team of artists was joined by the German-born Josef Wolf, who, like Richter and Hart, would also become a long-term collaborator. The subjects of the plates are among the most varied of Gould's folios: trogons, kingfishers, sunbirds, woodpeckers, partridges, parrots, parakeets, pheasants, and many other genera are beautifully drawn, printed and colored.  Gould placed many of the overwhelmingly vibrant, showy and elegant birds in settings appropriately lush and detailed.  Perhaps more than in any of his other productions, he was careful to create an environment that was extensively delineated and highly accurate.  In many of Gould's other books, the background was subtle or nonexistent, but he was clearly fascinated by the foliage and wildlife of Asia.  The intended geographical range of the work was enormous, and very much in keeping with the seemingly limitless ambition of the 19th century's most enterprising and prolific ornithologist.  The Birds of Asia was an overwhelming success, despite the great length of time over which it was produced.  It was also a stunning feat in that, throughout the four decades of its production, the quality remained outstandingly high.  The many noted subscribers included Queen Victoria, the Emperor of Austria, the kings of Hanover, Belgium, and Portugal, museums, universities, and institutions in cities worldwide.  

Richard Bowdler Sharpe (1847-1909) Monograph of the Paradiseidae, or Birds of Paradise...Two vols. folio, 79 hand-colored lithographs after Gould, Keulemans and Hart. London: 1891-98. The talented natural history painter William Hart was the artistic genius behind the lavish illustrations for Richard Bowdler Sharpe's splendid work on the Birds of Paradise, which is one of the last of the great illustrated bird books.  Sharpe was the curator of birds at the British Museum, and he had been a friend and protegé of John Gould since the great ornithologist had encountered Sharpe as a boy collecting birds along the river Thames.  With his book on the Birds of Paradise, Sharpe was enlarging and refining Gould's Birds of New Guinea (1875-88).  Gould had been fascinated by these most exotic and fantastic of birds.  Prized by traders for the decorative value of their colorful feathers, Birds of Paradise have long enthralled ornithologists with their strange and complex behavior, and the incredible variety of their plumage and markings.  Sharpe shared this enthusiasm with his mentor, and they collaborated on the Birds of New Guinea, which was completed shortly after Gould's death.  Unlike that publication, however, Sharpe's monograph focuses exclusively on these splendid birds.  Many of the specimens in this work were never seen by Gould, reflecting the further exploration of New Guinea in the years following his death. Sharpe selected William Hart to create the original watercolors for these volumes.  A veteran of numerous Gould projects, the prolific and highly accomplished Hart was especially famed for having produced the elegant originals for Gould's remarkable monograph on Hummingbirds.  The noted expert on ornithological art, S. Sitwell, describes Sharpe's Monograph of the Paradiseidae as "the climax to Gould's life work."  Sharpe -- Gould's most devoted protegé -- and Hart -- his most accomplished artist -- drew on Gould's incomparable legacy of research and craftsmanship to create a splendid tribute to Gould, and his favorite birds.

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