New Book | The Art of the Bird

Posted in books by Editor on January 13, 2020

From The University of Chicago Press:

Roger Lederer, The Art of the Bird: The History of Ornithological Art through Forty Artists (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019), 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0226675053, $35.

The human history of depicting birds dates to as many as 40,000 years ago, when Paleolithic artists took to cave walls to capture winged and other beasts. But the art form has reached its peak in the last four hundred years. In The Art of the Bird, devout birder and ornithologist Roger J. Lederer celebrates this heyday of avian illustration in forty artists’ profiles, beginning with the work of Flemish painter Frans Snyders in the early 1600s and continuing through to contemporary artists like Elizabeth Butterworth, famed for her portraits of macaws. Stretching its wings across time, taxa, geography, and artistic style—from the celebrated realism of American conservation icon John James Audubon, to Elizabeth Gould’s nineteenth-century renderings of museum specimens from the Himalayas, to Swedish artist and ornithologist Lars Jonsson’s ethereal watercolors—this book is feathered with art and artists as diverse and beautiful as their subjects. A soaring exploration of our fascination with the avian form, The Art of the Bird is a testament to the ways in which the intense observation inherent in both art and science reveals the mysteries of the natural world.

Roger J. Lederer is professor emeritus of biological sciences at California State University, Chico, where he taught courses on ornithology and ecology. He is the author of Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs: How the Struggle for Survival Has Shaped Birds and Their Behavior; coauthor of Latin for Bird Lovers; and creator of Ornithology.com.



1  Flemish Baroque Artists, 1580–1700
From the early seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries, Flemish painters favoured exotic birds as subjects, especially parrots and peacocks.
Frans Snyders (1579–1657)
Carel Pietersz Fabritius (1622–1654)
Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636–95)

2  Early English Artists, 1626–1716
Animal representations were superseded by religious paintings and portraiture, but painters of these genres often worked with animaliers to add creatures to scenes.
Francis Barlow (1626–1704)
Jakob Bogdani (1658–1724)
Marmaduke Cradock (1660–1716)

3  Natural History, 1680–1806
Explorers brought back specimens from exotic destinations, popularizing natural history. As new birds were discovered, collected, and named, the science of ornithology came into being with the help of artists who illustrated these new discoveries.
Mark Catesby (1682/3–1749)
George Edwards (1694–1773)
Aert Schouman (1710–1792)

4  Before Ecology
Natural history focused on the identification of organisms. Naming became more standardized, thoughtful, and detailed, as did the art that accompanied it.
Thomas Bewick (1753–1828)
Lady Elizabeth Symonds Gwillim (1763–1807)
Alexander Wilson (1766–1813)

5  Early Scientific Illustration
Art began to accurately reflect the habitat and behaviour of birds, as observation revealed the subtle details of their physical appearance and their behavioural patterns.
John James Audubon (1785–1851)
Prideaux John Selby (1788–1867)
Elizabeth Gould (1804–1841)

6  In the Age of Darwin
The age of Darwin was also the golden age of ornithology. Ideas about how birds’ shape, colours and behaviour came to be and what relationships they had were debated.
Edward Lear (1812–1888)
Joseph Wolf (1820–1899)
William Matthew Hart (1830–1908)

7  Art and Science Overlap
As exploration of the natural world expanded, artists became important observers. Comparing species and varieties required artists to put more than one species on a page, and scientific monographs on specific bird groups became more common.
John Gerrard Keulemans (1842–1912)
Robert Ridgway (1850–1929)
Archibald Thorburn (1860–1935)
Bruno Liljefors (1860–1939)
Allan Cyril Brooks (1869–1946)
Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927)

8  Broader Appeal
The skills of artists, the variety of their styles, their publications, and their reach to communities outside of the art world stoked the public’s interest both in birds and art.
Claude Gibney Finch-Davies (1875–1920)
Lilian Marguerite Medland (1880–1955)
Neville William Cayley (1886–1950)
Jessie Arms Botke (1883–1971)
Eric Ennion (1900–1981)
Roger Tory Peterson (1908–1996)

9  Bird Art Support Birds
When the environmental movement began in earnest in the latter half of the twentieth century, people noticed that bird habitats were disappearing and bird numbers declining. Artists helped to increase public awareness of these environmental issues.
Janet Turner (1914–1988)
Arthur B. Singer (1917–1990)
Keith Shackleton (1923–2015)
William Thomas Cooper (1934–2015)
James Fenwick Lansdowne (1937–2008)

10  Ornithological Art Expands
Bird field guides and illustrated books maintain their popularity but artists are also producing novel, creative and bizarre bird art that continues to enthral and inspire.
Raymond Harris-Ching (b. 1939)
Hilary Burn (b. 1946)
Elizabeth Butterworth (b. 1949)
Lars Jonsson (b. 1952)
David Allen Sibley (b. 1961)


Call for Papers | The Animal and the Human in Netherlandish Art

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on January 13, 2020

From ArtHist.net:

The Animal and the Human in Netherlandish Art
Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 71 (2021)

Proposals due by 10 February 2020; articles due by 3 August 2020

Art begins with the animal. –Deleuze and Guattari (1991)

If the topic of the animal and the human in Netherlandish art evokes images of aristocratic hunt scenes, lap-dogs or Boschian hybrids, current ecological and ethical concerns reveal persistent questions of why and how artists have engaged with the nonhuman animal as subject and object of depiction. From Bosch to Snyders to Broodthaers to Fabre, Netherlandish artists have probed, and continue to probe, changing understandings of the relations and shifting boundaries between the human and the animal. Yet despite the importance of the visual arts to ‘the question of the animal’, the abundance of Netherlandish imagery of animals and human-animal relations has not received sustained attention. Volume 71 (2021) of the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek invites investigations into the animal and the human in the art and visual culture of the Low Countries and its diasporas in all periods.

In recent decades the field of animal studies has attracted increasing interest as scholars from various disciplines take other animals seriously as subjects. Animal studies pays close attention to the ways in which humans anthropomorphize animals, whilst adopting a post-humanist perspective in recognizing animals as beings-in-themselves, separate from our interests in them. The field has roots in questions about human beings’ co-existence with and use of other animals, extending the possibility of feeling emotion and pain to other sentient creatures. It also arises from cultural and philosophical interest in attempts to define the self and humanity through interactions with and representations of other animals. Giorgio Agamben for example, has examined the ways in which Western thought has produced ‘the human’ as a distinct and superior animal, or as different in kind from ‘the animal’.

The distinction made by René Descartes—who lived in the Netherlands from 1628 until 1639—between a self-aware, thinking human subject and a reflex-driven beast-machine was an important symbolic moment in the separation of ‘the animal’ from ‘the human’. The early modern period witnessed a tendency to depict animals as objects. Here, knowledge of the nature of a specific species of animal was not a matter of symbolic references and emblematic meanings, but of accurate, ‘scientific’ depiction. Depicted ‘ad vivum’ became an advertising slogan—whether the artist had seen the creature with his or her own eyes or not. In the early 18th century, for example, the magnificent printed publications after Maria Sybilla Merian’s drawings were authorized by the claim to be ‘naer het leven’. This claim to lifelikeness went hand in hand with experiments in observation and representation. One could think of the technologies of the microscope, photography and other forms of imaging including the digital. One might also cite interest in insects, animal anatomy, vivisection, comparative anatomy, taxonomy, or in the natural habitat of animals and their reproduction, animal curiosities, wonders, and genetics.

A sense of wonder could be evoked by the techniques of representation and the materiality of works of art. For example: Joris Hoefnagel and Otto Marseus van Schrieck famously inserted real insect-wings in their images, like, later, Fabre. This opens up the question to the use of animals in works of art in a broader sense: as a source for pigments and dyes, for glue and for brushes; or as source for parchment and vellum; or as elements of site-specific installations. How were these animal products obtained and processed? How did/does awareness of this affect interpretation of the works they constitute?

This volume invites new work that engages with the humanities beyond the human. Contributions might explore northern European art works that visualise animal mutations, metamorphoses, fables, struggles, fetishizing, speciation, preservation, and the monstrous. They might also engage with artistic critiques of taxonomies, habitats, hybridities, consumption, and the post-human.

The NKJ is dedicated to a particular theme each year and promotes innovative scholarship and articles that employ a diversity of approaches to the study of Netherlandish art in its wider context. More information is available here. Contributions to the NKJ (in Dutch, English, German, or French) are limited to a maximum of 7,500 words, excluding notes and bibliography. Following a peer review process and receipt of the complete text, the editorial board will make final decisions on the acceptance of papers.

Please send a 500-word proposal and short CV by 10 February 2020 to:

Schedule of production
Deadline for submission of proposals: 28 February 2020
Notifications about proposals: by 15 March 2020
Submission of articles for peer review: 3 August 2020

%d bloggers like this: