Nematanthus corticola and Eucephala caeruleo lavata


John Gould was an English ornithologist and bird artist, who published many illustrations of a wide variety of birds. His representation of the Galapagos finches assisted Charles Darwin in formulating evolutionary theory. Gould, however, is best known for his massive monograph on hummingbirds, which eventually reached to almost 400 plates. All of these show beautifully rendered and hand-colored hummingbirds; a number also included Gesneriads as the plants in proximity to the birds. Some of these inclusions are apt (there are many red-flowered tubular flowers, probably frequented by hummingbirds in real life), and others less so, with flowers more characteristic of those favored by bees or other insects.

Gould did not draw the plants from life – for the most part, he copied and re-created existing plates from the vast 19th Century archive of botanical art. Often the copies were resized or modified to better position the birds, so are not generally identical to the original botanical plate. But they are beautiful nonetheless.

Print photo from the web.