Dive into the captivating world of avian illustrations with George Shaw’s naturalist bird prints, where art and science converge to celebrate the diversity and beauty of birdlife in the 18th and 19th centuries.
George Shaw was a late 18th-century Oxford-educated English botanist and zoologist. He was among the first scientists to examine a duck pus platypus. He published the first scientific description of it in The Naturalist’s Miscellany in 1799.
The Vintage Bird Prints
The Naturalist prints curated here are a selection from George Shaw’s book The Naturalist’s Miscellany also known as Coloured Figures of Natural Objects.
George Shaw dedicated a significant portion of his life to documenting various species. Among his numerous contributions, his bird prints remain particularly cherished. With incredible attention to detail, Shaw’s illustrations marry scientific accuracy with an artist’s touch.
His work was instrumental in educating his contemporaries and continues to captivate bird enthusiasts and art lovers alike. Through his illustrations, one can embark on a visual journey, exploring the diversity and elegance of birdlife during an era when the natural world was a place of endless fascination and discovery.
The Naturalist Prints
A very colour print of a green peafowl (Burmese). Peacocks must be one of the most colourful birds on the planets, that is why their feathers are so prized.
Peacocks are forest dwelling birds that lay their nests on the ground.
There is a wonderful collection of peacock paintings with Ohara Koson’s bird paintings.
Kingfishers are a family favourite. My father’s first published (1977) ornithological book featured a kingfisher on the cover. The original painting of that cover still hangs in my parent’s home.
The brightness of the blue feathers on a kingfisher is caused by the structure of the feathers, which causes scattering of blue light.
The kingfishers also have long, dagger-like bills.
This woodpecker spends more of its time at the tops of tall trees in the woods. The illustration is of a male, recognizable by its crimson crown, brown forehead, black superciliary stripe, and another from the base of the bill to the neck.
A naturalist illustration of an Indian Lory. Lory’s parrots have specialized brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits. They can feed from the flowers of about 5,000 species of plants and use their specialized tongues to take the nectar.
Rollers resemble crows in size and build, and share the colourful appearance of kingfishers and bee-eaters.
The term pied describes bird plumage with large, contrasting patches of bold colour, most often in black and white and with clear, distinct edges.
Another wonderful naturalist print of Shaw’s, of a kingfisher.
Chatterers are a group of perching birds that have a chattering cry, hence their name.
Cockatoos are a kind of parrot with prominent crests and curved bills. Their feathers are generally less colourful than other parrots, mainly white, grey or black and often with coloured features in the crest, cheeks or tail.
I assume this bird got its name due to the striking yellow colour of its plumage.
This crow inhabits the islands of the Indian Ocean and is only six to seven inches long.
A naturalist illustration print of a red-billed hoopoe. This bird is about 17 inches long and advertises its presence with its loud distinctive kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk call.
A naturalist print of a variegated finch also known as an elegant finch.
Finches are birds with stout conical bills adapted for eating seeds and often have colourful plumage. They occupy many habitats where they are usually resident and do not migrate.
There is another Shaw illustration in the pelican print collection.
Many of these birds are also featured on this tropical bird series of cigarette cards.
If you enjoyed these bird naturalist prints of George Shaw, don’t forget to check out some of my other wonderful vintage bird illustration collections including these bird nests and eggs.
- Mark Catesby Prints of American Flora & Fauna
- Collection of Toucan Paintings
- Flamingo Art Prints
- American Songbirds
- Printable Owl drawings and illustrations
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