London: R.H. Porter, 1885-1897. Eight volumes (7 plus index). Royal 8vo. xxxv, 112; ix, 230; ix, 130; ix, 154; ix, 138; ix, 150; ix, 170 (pp. 149-170, the index, are bound into Volume 8) pp. FIRST EDITION. With 432 chromolithograph plates (11 more than called for) mounted on linen guards by Thorburn and Keulemans. Half-morocco and marbled boards, marbled paste-downs and endpapers; a truly magnificent copy with the complete set of the original printed wrappers preserved in the final (index) volume. Item #16305
First edition of “perhaps the finest and most perfect ornithological iconography” (Nissen). This truly magnificent work was issued in 36 parts to subscribers. A brief description of every British species accompanies the beautiful chromolithograph portraits. Part 1 was issued in Oct. 1885, part 36 in Jan. 1898. The majority of the colored drawings are by Thorburn and Keulemans while a few are by Lodge and Foster. The work was not completed at the time of Lord Lilford’s death, when it was undertaken by Osbert Salvin. An account of the dates of issue and other items of infomration regarding this work will be found in Hugh S. Gladstone’s Handbook to Lord Lilford’s Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles.
Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron Lilford (1833-1896) was a British aristocrat and ornithologist. Lilford was one of the eight founders of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1858 and its President from 1867 until his death. He was also the first President of the Northamptonshire Natural History Society. His extensive aviary featured birds from around the globe, including rheas, kiwis, Pink-headed ducks and a pair of free-flying Bearded vultures. The Scottish artists Thorburn (1860-1935) was a bird and animal painter, known for his provocative and dramatic backgrounds. It was his commission in 1887 to illustrate Lord Lilford’s Coloured figures of the birds of the British Isles, for which he painted some 268 watercolors.
Anker, 308; Freeman, British Natural History Books, 2244; Nissen, IVB, 563; Sitwell, Fine Bird Books, p. 119; Casey Wood, p. 436.