This impeccable, hand-colored lithograph is from the first edition of Gregory Macalister Mathew’s The Birds of Australia. The work was published in London by Witherby & Co. between 1910 and 1927. The artists that contributed to the work included J. G. Keulemans, Gronvold, R. Green, Goodchild, and Lodge.
This work was the first major work on Australian birds since John Gould’s and illustrated 100 further species than his work. It is also one of the last important natural history works to be illustrated with hand-colored lithographs. The edition was limited to 225 copies of which this is copy # 168.
G. M. Mathews was a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and affiliated with a number of scientific organizations. He was named Order of Commander of the British Empire for his contributions to science.
“An enormous amount of information is contained in these volumes, in which the literature concerned and the question of nomenclature are fully treated. Under each genus synonyms, a brief diagnosis, a description, and a key to the species are given, while under each form we find a detailed synomyny, information about distribution and as far as posssible, a description of the adult male, the adult female, the immature bird, and the nestling; the eggs and the nests are also described, and the breedings-months stated. Then follows an account of the habits and life-history of the birds, including long quotations from the literature.” (Anker p. 163)
“Time was also running out for J.G. Keulemans but not before he had started on Mathew’s monumental work, ‘The Birds of Australia’, one of the most important ornithological treatises ever published… Keulemans completed 163 illustrations for the first four volumes before he died on the 29th of March 1912.” (Keulemans & Coldewey, Feathers to Brush p. 27)