Published: July 20, 2021
LONDON – A temporary export bar has been placed on volumes I and II of Gould’s Original Drawings, which are valued at more than $1.7 million. The bar allows time for a gallery or institution in the United Kingdom to acquire the work.
One of Britain’s most significant ornithologists of the Nineteenth Century, John Gould’s (1804-1881) work played a role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and is referenced in Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species.
Valued at $1,773,740, the two albums contain 129 process drawings and watercolors by Gould and four unpublished lithographic proofs by Gould, his wife Elizabeth Gould and the artist Henry Constantine Richter.
Gould’s process drawings are vital for understanding how the lithographic plates were created and the sketches reveal the workings behind not only Gould’s most significant publication The Birds of Australia, but also the second volumes of some of Gould’s other published works.
These important drawings also demonstrate Victorian attempts to catalog and define different flora and fauna across the world.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said, “These exquisite drawings provide an important insight into the work of one of our most significant ornithologists, helping us to better understand Nineteenth Century study of natural history. I sincerely hope that these beautiful works can be saved for the nation so they may continue to inform our knowledge and understanding of John Gould’s brilliant work.”
The Minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA). The committee agreed these works were the product of one of the most significant natural history artists of the Victorian age. Appointed the first curator and preserver of the Zoological Society of London, Gould stood preeminent in his field with an international reputation as the most prominent British and Australian ornithologist.
The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds that their departure from the United Kingdom would be a misfortune because they were of outstanding significance for the study of the history and study of natural history art.
The decision on the export license application for the drawings will be deferred until September 24. This may be extended until January 24 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of $1,773,840 (inclusive of VAT).
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