The Four Greatest Bird Books in the World

On Exhibit Now

Four of the world's greatest ornithological books are now assembled at Arader Galleries in New York City. This gathering spans the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries telling the story of European and American obsession with finding and illustrating new and exotic species as colonial supremacy.

Request a private viewing

Pieter Holsteyn's Aves aquatiles advivum eleganter

The collection's timeline begins in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands during the hieght of the Dutch East India Company withPieter Holsteyn'sAves aquatiles advivum eleganterwhich is thefirst compilation of ornithological drawing depicting bird species from all six continents.

The 168 paintings depict 81 species and another 30 hybrids and avicultural varieties. The wild birds include many native to the Netherlands and a wide range of species from other hemispheres where the Dutch had established colonies and trading posts.  The portraits of avicultural varieties reveal an interest in experimentation in hybridizing different wild birds, especially ducks, and selecting unusual features in parrots and barnyard fowl. 


Mark Catesby's extra-illustrated Natural History and portfolio of original watercolors

In the eighteenth-century,  America became the most exotic destination in the world. Mark Catesby and William Bartram were progenitors of this nation's earliest natural history imagery. Arriving in the states this week is the Peter Collinson collection of Mark Catesby's extra-illustratedNatural Historyand portfolio of original watercolors by Catesby, William Bartram, George Edwards, and Georg Ehret.  It is an extraordinary grouping that has been in the hands of the Earls of Derby at Knowsley since the mid-nineteenth century. Included are eleven Mark Catesby watercolors, none have been available since the eighteenth century, fifty-one William Bartram watercolors, no original work by this artist has been offered since 1842, and significant watercolors grouping by Georg Ehret and George Edwards.   

Together it is widely considered one of the most important archives relating to this circle of collectors, natural historians, artists, and garden owners in London during the first half of the 18th-century. 


John James Audubon's Birds of America

In tandem with the Collinson collection, Arader Galleries also possesses a complete set of John James Audubon'sBirds of America. These early American works flesh out thenascent study of botany and ornithology in America. 

Audubon's landmark work, with 435 life-size hand-colored aquatints of birds, had an immeasurable impact on American and European natural history; it set the standard for future generations of naturalists and artists alike. Audubon's work "larger than life" approach to documenting all of America's ornithological gems brought sparkle and elegance to the rough and rowdy wilderness it was known to be.


Johannes Gerard Keulemans A Monograph of the Meropidae

 While America rose to prominence in learned naturalists' circles, the lure of brightly colored and yet to be described exotics in Africa also reigned supreme. Johannes Gerard Keulemans was one of the foremost ornithological illustrators of the nineteenth-century.  Dutch by origin, he was part of a select band of continental European bird and animal artists attracted to England during the middle and latter half of the nineteenth century.

This is a superb set of 34 watercolors representing the familty of Bea Eaters by one of the finest artists of ornithology, John Gerard Keulemans.

You can review these masterpieces of ornithology here on our website,  however, the luminosity of each feather and gloss of every eye can never be captured in pixels. The true majesty of these works is revealed by seeing them in person.  We are excited to invite you to view these masterpieces by appointment at our townhouse at 1016 Madison Avenue at any time that may be convenient for you. Please contact us to make a time to come by; we look forward to seeing you. 

Request a private viewing