Blue and Yellow Maccaw by Edward Lear


Blue and Yellow Maccaw


Edward Lear

Ref GM038
Type Fine Art Print
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This arresting print depicts a Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), a member of the macaw group of parrots which breeds in the forests of tropical South America. These birds can reach around 90cm in length, and can weigh well over a kilogram. They have become popular as pets due to their dramatic appearance and ability to talk, although they can be extremely expensive, and their large size can greatly impede domestication. The artist, Edward Lear, is well known for his hugely popular nonsense verse and his invention of the limerick; but his literary achievements were preceded by an extremely successful career as an illustrator of birds and animals. In 1830, at the age of just 18, Lear obtained permission to work as a draughtsman at the Zoological Society gardens in Regent’s Park. He devoted the following two years to recording the different members of the parrot family, and his groundbreaking Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae, or Parrots was published in parts between 1830 and 1832, drawing favourable comparisons with the work of the great John James Audubon. Lear had a painstaking approach to his work, combining an exceptional level of detail and scientific accuracy with a wonderful sense of design and a real sympathy with his subject. Unlike most previous illustrators, he drew wherever possible from life, rather than from stuffed specimens, allowing him to achieve a far better representation of the birds’ pose and expression. A further innovation was his use of lithography, rather than engraving: this allowed him to maintain total artistic control over every stage of his work, and represented an important turning point in the history of natural history illustration. Nowhere is Lear’s artistic brilliance better demonstrated than in this extraordinary, vivid print.