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Natural History Prints

Natural history prints involve the study of animals, plants, insects, geology and other observations of the environment and its inhabitants. Natural historians have been recording their observations since ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval times, but it was not until the European Renaissance that printmaking and natural history subjects became linked.

Scientists began studying directly from nature, and the rise of engraving and woodblock printmaking for book illustration was useful for this practice. The symbiotic relationship between printmaking and the natural sciences continued for practical purposes well into the 19th century with the illustrations of scientists like the ornithologists John Gould and John Audubon, and the naturalist Edward Lear.

John and Elizabeth Gould travelled to Australia and Tasmania, observing birds in nature, collecting specimens and publishing extensively collections of hand colored lithographs. In 1832, at the age of 19, Edward Lear published his first book on parrots in lushly hand-colored lithographs, and a lifetime of scientific illustration and printing followed. Today, artists create natural history prints in the distinctive style of Audubon, Gould, and Lear for decorative purposes.


Quick Facts

  • The most notable illustrated book on botany, a natural history subject involving the study of plants, was illustrated and printed from woodcut prints by the German scientist Leonhard Fuchs in 1542
  • Between 1551 and 1558, Conrad Gessner published Historiae Animalium, a four-volume work featuring hand-colored woodcut prints, and the first attempt to dispel erroneous information about the natural animal world
  • John Gould's illustrations of bird specimens brought back from the Galapagos islands were published in the late 1830s, containing hand colored lithographs of birds that Gould determined were a new species of finch

Recommended Items at Auction

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Catesby, Folio - Laurel-Tree of Carolina (Magnolia). 61
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Laurel-Tree of Carolina (Magnolia). 61
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $15,000- $25,000
$85013 Bids
Barraband - Parrot. 77
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Barraband - Parrot. 77
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,500- $3,500
$4758 Bids
Manetti - Cockatoo. 118
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Manetti - Cockatoo. 118
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$1507 Bids
D'Orbigny - 6 Shell Engravings
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - 6 Shell Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$1107 Bids
Barraband - Parrot. 117
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Barraband - Parrot. 117
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,500- $3,500
$2505 Bids
Manetti - Fork-tailed Hummingbird. 406
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Manetti - Fork-tailed Hummingbird. 406
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $500- $1,000
$1104 Bids
D'Orbigny - Toucan
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Toucan
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$453 Bids
Manetti - Cockatoo. 119
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Manetti - Cockatoo. 119
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $500- $1,000
$953 Bids
Catesby, Folio - Luna Moth with Mock Orange & Smilax. 84
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Luna Moth with Mock Orange & Smilax. 84
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$3753 Bids
Albin - Nuthatch. 28
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Nuthatch. 28
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$402 Bids
Albin - Kingfisher from Bengal. 2
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Kingfisher from Bengal. 2
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$402 Bids
Merian - 6 Entomology Engravings
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Merian - 6 Entomology Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $500- $1,500
$752 Bids
Catesby, Folio - Tiger Swallow-Tail with Wafer Ash. 83
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Tiger Swallow-Tail with Wafer Ash. 83
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2602 Bids
Catesby, Folio - Flying Squirrel with Persimmon. 76
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Flying Squirrel with Persimmon. 76
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2402 Bids
Albin - Smyrna Kingfisher. 27
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Smyrna Kingfisher. 27
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$401 Bid
Albin - Blue-head Tom Tit. 47
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Blue-head Tom Tit. 47
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$401 Bid
Moses Harris - Admirable Butterfly, Small Magpie Moth. 6
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Moses Harris - Admirable Butterfly, Small Magpie Moth. 6
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$751 Bid
Barraband - Parrot. 82
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Barraband - Parrot. 82
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,500- $3,500
$1701 Bid
Catesby, Folio - Tumble-Turds (Dung Beetle) with Canada Lily. 6
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Tumble-Turds (Dung Beetle) with Canada Lily. 6
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$2001 Bid
Brenchley - Purple-bellied Lory (Lorius Hypoinochrous). 14
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Brenchley - Purple-bellied Lory (Lorius Hypoinochrous). 14
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $150- $300
$251 Bid
Albin - Puffin or Couternel. 78
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Puffin or Couternel. 78
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$401 Bid
Manetti - Cockatoo. 117
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Manetti - Cockatoo. 117
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$751 Bid
Albin - Golden Eagle. 1
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Albin - Golden Eagle. 1
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$401 Bid
Barraband - Parrot. 81
Oct 01, 10:00 AM CDT
Barraband - Parrot. 81
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,500- $3,500
$1701 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Natural History Prints


Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Connoisseur Online

Connoisseur Online

Artcurial

Artcurial

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen