Gleanings of Natural History
George Edwards was an early pioneer in British ornithology and animal illustration. His Gleanings of Natural History (1758 – 64) consist of a series of finely etched, hand-coloured plates executed and signed by Edwards himself. Many of the engravings are after drawings made by Edwards on his travels to Holland, Norway, Belguim and France (1716 – 31). Others are based on drawings executed whilst Edwards was Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians. Here he was able to study and draw specimens of birds and animals from all parts of the world. Yet another source of specimens was offered by sailors who, returning from abroad, would bring home parrots and other tropical species. On hearing of their arrival, Edwards would dash off with his sketch pad to make ‘from life’ drawings.
Edwards’s illustrations combine careful draughtsmanship with a certain primitive charm which sets them apart from later more naturalistic ornithological studies. Many of the species engraved by Edwards had never before been recorded in the Western World. Today, Edwards engravings are a delight to aesthete and ornithologist alike.
Variegated Jamaican Woodpecker
Greater Cockroach brought by Catesby from the Carolinas and a Cricket from Barbary.
Eurasian Kingfisher with a Blue Iguana of Nevis.
Female Quagga, an extinct sub-species of the African Plain Zebra.
Brasilian Green Macaw. Pet of Lord Carpenter.
After the life painting by Jan Savery. c1655, this elegant depiction was the source for subsequent illustrations including that in Alice in Wonderland.
Black Maucauco or Lemur of Madagascar reaching for fruit. Pet of Mr Carrington, clerk to the Society of Surgeons.
Worm eating New World Warbler with a wood eating Capricorn Beetle.
Golden Capped Parakeet of Brazil with a Green and Blue Parrot.
Guiana Shirley or Military Tanager (Greater Bullfinch with a common Mormon Swallowtail butterfly.
St Jago or Green Monkey of the Cape Verde Islands.
Pennsylvanian Small Mud Tortoise
East Indian Ringed Parakeet and Blue-headed Parakeet.
Red Breasted and Green Throated Hummingbirds of Suriname with an English Dormouse.
Zebra: Male African Zebra. Drawn initially from a stuffed example with additions from a live example at the Royal menagerie at Kew.
Red breasted or Mustached Parakeet. Purchased by Edwards in London from an East India ship.
Female Rhinoceros and young elephant with tusks added by Edwards.
Short-tailed Pye of the East Indies with an Elephant beetle.
Mongoose of Madagascar with a basket of fruit: Pet of Mrs Kennon of the Royal Household.
Wallcreeper of Suriname and Great Swallow-tailed butterfly of China.
Little Owl: Athena Noctua. Not native to Great Britain this Little Owl came down a chimney near the Tower and was kept as a pet.
La Barbu Tachete de Cayenne with a Libellula fly. The bird was one of the ‘prizes’ seized by the Earl Ferres from a French ship.
White throated Toucan of South America.
Kingfisher of Brazil: Known as the Marcgrave Jacamacri.
White-Troated American Sparrow with a Yellow Carolinian (Clouded Sulphur) butterfly.The sparrow after a drawing by W Bartram, the insect from life.
Yellow Winged Pye of Guiana with the Greater Locust.