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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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Lucas - 11 Butterfly Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Lucas - 11 Butterfly Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$20015 Bids
Cuvier - Pair of Butterflyfish Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Cuvier - Pair of Butterflyfish Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $150- $300
$32512 Bids
D'Orbigny - 5 Shell or Sea Life Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - 5 Shell or Sea Life Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$27011 Bids
D'Orbigny - Seahorse & Flying Fish
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Seahorse & Flying Fish
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$858 Bids
Edwards - 3 Bird Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Edwards - 3 Bird Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$806 Bids
Edwards - Pair of Bird witih Insect Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Edwards - Pair of Bird witih Insect Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$856 Bids
Cuvier - 3 Fish Engravings (Barracuda, Flathead, Sawfish & Hammerhead Shark)
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Cuvier - 3 Fish Engravings (Barracuda, Flathead, Sawfish & Hammerhead Shark)
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$505 Bids
Martinet - Pair of Parrot Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Martinet - Pair of Parrot Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$1305 Bids
Buffon's Histoire Naturelle, Plant Section - 18 Volumes with 302 Engravings (151 in color,151 without) and Text
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Buffon's Histoire Naturelle, Plant Section - 18 Volumes with 302 Engravings (151 in color,151 without) and Text
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,1005 Bids
D'Orbigny - Butterfly
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Butterfly
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$955 Bids
Edwards - Pair of Hummingbird Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Edwards - Pair of Hummingbird Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$754 Bids
Cuvier - Pair of Fish Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Cuvier - Pair of Fish Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$403 Bids
Donovan - 5 Fish Engravings (Salmon, Cod, &c.)
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Donovan - 5 Fish Engravings (Salmon, Cod, &c.)
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$403 Bids
D'Orbigny - Butterflies
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Butterflies
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$303 Bids
Bloch, Folio - Fish - Salmo Schifermulleri. 103
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Bloch, Folio - Fish - Salmo Schifermulleri. 103
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$1603 Bids
Catesby, Folio - Ilathera Duck. 1-93
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Ilathera Duck. 1-93
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$2603 Bids
Edwards - 4 Shore or Water Bird Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Edwards - 4 Shore or Water Bird Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $400- $800
$552 Bids
Martinet - Bird of Paradise. 496
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Martinet - Bird of Paradise. 496
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$552 Bids
Cuvier - Pair of Fish Engravings
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Cuvier - Pair of Fish Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$302 Bids
Bloch, Folio - Fish - Chaetodon Cornutus, C. Macrolepidotus. 200
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Bloch, Folio - Fish - Chaetodon Cornutus, C. Macrolepidotus. 200
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$602 Bids
Catesby, Folio - Muray (Eel). 2-20
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
Catesby, Folio - Muray (Eel). 2-20
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$2002 Bids
D'Orbigny - Pair of Engravings: Crawfish, Mantis Shrimp
Jun 22, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Pair of Engravings: Crawfish, Mantis Shrimp
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$302 Bids
D'Orbigny - Atlas Moth. 10
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CDT
D'Orbigny - Atlas Moth. 10
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$251 Bid
Bloch, Folio - Pike Fish - Esox Lucio. 32
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CDT
Bloch, Folio - Pike Fish - Esox Lucio. 32
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$501 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Natural History Prints


Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Connoisseur Online

Connoisseur Online

Eldred's

Eldred's

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers