This first edition, originally hand-colored lithograph comes from Henry Dresser’s A Monograph of the Coraciidae, or Family of the Rollers. The work was published in London by the author in 1893. The plates were by the acclaimed artist J. G. Keulemans.
The roller is a solitary forest bird that largely came from the Ethiopian region. The name roller was developed from observing their movements in courtship in fights.
Keulemans is one of the most respected bird artists whose images were noted for their fine detail. He contributed to some of the best known ornithological works including those of Elliot, Buller, Dresser, and The Ibis. According to Jackson (Bird Illustrators, p. 90) The great value of Keulemans’ work as an ornithological draughtsman lay in his sureness of design of the plate and his accuracy in portraying the birds themselves. The bird figures were carefully drawn and executed down to the last scales on the feet. The feathering was neatly delineated with the different plumes receiving sympathetic treatment.
Dresser was a leading figure in ornithological circles: he was elected a Member of the British Ornithologists Union in 1865 and served as its secretary from 1882 to 1888. He was a member and fellow of the Linnean and Zoological societies of London and an honorary fellow of the American Ornithologists Union. Coraciidae was one of the three major monographs published by Dresser.