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The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.Natural History


Natural history prints from
Thomas Pennant's British Zoology

[ Quadrupeds | Birds ]


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Pennant CormorantRoebuckPennant: Ptarmigan

Thomas Pennant. From The British Zoology. London: J. and J. March, 1766. Large folio. Etchings. Original hand-coloring. Drawings by P. Paillou, G. Edwards, et. al. Etchings by P. Mazell. Full margins.

A series of splendid animal and bird prints by one of England's leading 18th-century naturalists. Thomas Pennant was a fellow of the Royal Society and a friend and correspondent with such notables as Sir Joseph Banks and Carl Linnaeus. His British Zoology was an expensive and major undertaking. Where contemporaries like Catesby and Edwards were more interested in foreign species, Pennant takes the credit for publishing the first color illustrations of birds in a book attempting to portray all of the British species, many of them life-size. Another distinctive appearance here are the prints of mammals, a rare find in any 18th-century natural history.

The large scale and forthrightness of these images make for their unusual attractiveness and wonderful presence. Each bird or animal is rendered with great etched detail, strong color, and often set into a delightful summary landscape. For their subject matter, size, and tremendous appeal, these are among the very best early natural history prints.

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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated February 5, 2014