Lot 53: Bird Print by Alexander Wilson
October 29, 2016
Wells, ME, USA
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Description: [DECORATIVE ART] Offered here is an original fine and exquisite antique Bird Print by Alexander Wilson circa 1877. The print is a chromolithograph. The colours are bright and the details are rich, the paper is clean. Approx. 8.5 x 5.5 inches. Drawn from nature by Alexander Wilson, and engraved by William H. Lizars. Fine and exquisite. William Home Lizars (1788-1859) Scottish painter and engraver. His father was a publisher and an engraver who had been a pupil of Andrew Bell, and engraved portraits as book illustrations. Lizars was first apprenticed to his father, from whom he learned engraving, and then entered as a student under John Graham in the Trustees' Academy at Edinburgh, where he was a fellow-student with Sir David Wilkie. In 1812, on the death of his father, Lizars had to carry on the business of engraving and copperplate printing in order to support his mother and family. Lizars met J. J. Audubon in Edinburgh in October 1826, introduced (on Audubon's account) with his portfolio by the naturalists Patrick Neill and Prideaux John Selby. So began an intense period when Lizars helped Audubon meet Edinburgh luminaries likely to be useful to him: Robert Jameson, David Brewster and James Wilson in particular. Lizars had a celebrated portrait of Audubon painted (it is now in the White House), by John Syme, in his wolfskin coat, in late November; and the following day took him to meet George Combe and other phrenologists. Lizars had agreed to publish Audubon's Birds of America. After a promising start, the business did not go well, and Audubon moved the production to London. The work was completed by the Havell family. Lizars perfected a method of etching which performed the functions of wood-engraving, for illustration of books. Lizars took an active part in the foundation of the Royal Scottish Academy. From 1808 to 1815, Lizars was a frequent exhibitor of portraits, and of sacred and domestic subjects, at exhibitions in Edinburgh. In 1812 he sent two pictures to the Royal Academy in London, Reading the Will and A Scotch Wedding. They were admired, were hung on the line, and were engraved. They went to the National Gallery of Scotland at Edinburgh.
Condition Report: Fine