To begin each chapter we chose an outstanding painting relevant to the subject of the chapter, painted by some of the very best wildlife artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are, in alphabetical order:
Robert Bateman (b1930) is considered by many to be the foremost wildlife artist of his generation. He is best known for capturing the behaviour of birds and mammals set in broad landscapes of their natural habitats in North America and Africa. Born in Toronto he began his career as a high-school art and geography teacher, but turned his attention to wildlife art full-time when he was in his forties. He now lives on an island in British Columbia where he still devotes his time to painting and conservation. In 2013 the Robert Bateman Centre opened in Victoria, British Columbia, to showcase both his art and his conservation efforts. His work has been the focus of more than a dozen books, including Birds (with Kathryn Dean, Madison Press, 2002), The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes (by Peter Matthiessen Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2001), and Robert Bateman: An Artist in Nature (by Rick Archbold, Madison Press, 1990).
Raymond Ching (b1939), also known as Ray Harris-Ching, was born in New Zealand. It was his startling illustrations for the Reader’s Digest Book of British Birds (1969, Reader’s Digest) that brought him to Britain and to the public’s attention. He painted all 230 images for that book in under a year! The photo-realism of those paintings breathed new life into bird art. Several books have been published that focus on his art and he illustrated Kiwis: A Monograph of the Family Apterygidae (1990, SeTo Publ.). His life and art are well described in Ray Harris-Ching: Journey of an Artist (1990, Gulf Publ. Co.), written by his wife Carol Sinclair Smith.
Eric Ennion (1900-1981) was a medical doctor, with no training as an artist. Maybe as a result of that lack of training, he developed his own distinctive watercolour style that wonderfully captured the essence of a bird. In 1964, together with Robert Gillmor, he arranged an exhibition of bird art that resulted in the formation of the Society for Wildlife Artists. The images used as our chapter header were some of those commissioned for James Fisher’s The Shell Bird Book (1966, Ebury Press)—the originals are just 6 inches (15 cm) square. In addition to doing the illustrations of many books, he also wrote and illustrated several books of his own about his adventures with birds, including The Lapwing (1949, Methuen), Bird Study in a Garden (1958, Penguin Books) and Tracks (1967, with Niko Tinbergen, Oxford Univ Press). A new book (Ennion 2011 Bird Man’s River, Benton Street Books) highlights his paintings and some of his experiences watching birds in the 1930s.
Robert Gillmor (b1936) is an internationally renowned bird artist. Jo Wimpenny suggested we ask him if he would create the cover for our book, and via negotiations with Princeton, he agreed. We think the cover—a linocut of the Magnificent Bird of Paradise—is wonderful. Robert has produced cover illustrations for over one hundred books including many in the New Naturalist series, and was a founder of the Society for Wildlife Artists. Significantly for us, Robert illustrated (with line drawings) and made the covers for several of David Lack’s books, beginning in 1965 with Enjoying Ornithology (Methuen). We also used (in chapter 5) one of his illustrations from Lack’s Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds (1968, Oxford Univ Press), considered by many to be one of the most influential ornithology books of the twentieth century. Robert’s own books include Cutting Away: the linocuts of Robert Gillmor (2006, Peterborough) and Birds, Blocks and Stamps (2011, Two Rivers Press). Robert lives on the north Norfolk coast of England.
William Matthew Hart (1830-1908) was born in Ireland, but moved to Camberwell, London, where he was employed by both John Gould (between 1851-1881) and Richard Bowlder Sharpe, to create or supervise the colouring of the lithographs for their books. He originally began training as a medical doctor but ran out of funds to stay in school so turned his attention to painting birds for a living. See: Jackson 1987 Archives of Natural History 14: 237-241.
John Gerrard Keulemans (1842-1912), was born in the Netherlands, and according to Christine Jackson (1999, Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World, Antique Collectors’ Club) was the major bird book illustrator for 30 years at the end of the 19th century. Encouraged by Herman Schlegel, director of Leiden’s Museum of Natural History, Keulemans became known to Richard Bowlder Sharpe at the British Museum. He moved to England in 1869, his illustrations appearing in over 115 different books, numerous magazines and The Ibis. His total output numbered between 4000 and 5000 published illustrations of birds.
Rodger McPhail (b 1953) is Britain’s leading sporting and wildlife artist, and has been referred to as the ‘new Thorburn’. Born in Lancashire, UK, his first one man show was at the Tryon Gallery in 1977, which continues to exhibit his work. Rodger’s images, which also include portraits and cartoons, have been widely used in books.
David Miller (b1966) is an angler, diver and birdwatcher who specialises in underwater images. Tim Birkhead first saw and liked his paintings—of puffins on and under the water—on Skomer Island, Wales, without knowing who the artist was. Later when we were looking for a striking image of diving birds for the start of chapter 6 we found David’s images on-line. The fact that these are Skomer razorbills and guillemots made the image even more appealing, as Tim has studied these birds on Skomer for the past 40 consecutive years.
Douglas Pratt Jr (b1944) is an American ornithologist, specialising in the endemic birds of Hawaii. After completing his PhD in 1979 on this topic, he became curator of birds at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. From 1980 to 2005 he was a research associate at Louisiana State University. With no formal artist training, Pratt describes his success as ‘a hobby that got out of hand‘. His paintings of birds have appeared in a number of books, including his own A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific (1999, with P. L. Bruner, and D. G. Berrett, Princeton Univ Press) and The Hawaiian Honeycreepers (2005, Oxford Univ Press).
Ralph Steadman (b1936) is one of Britain’s best known cartoonists and illustrators. Born in Liverpool, he sold his first cartoon to the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1956. Steadman’s cartoons later appeared in Punch, but his big break came when he was asked to cover the Kentucky Derby with writer Hunter S. Thompson, resulting in an article that emphasised the event’s decadence and depravity. He went on to illustrate several of Hunter Thompson’s books and has written and illustrated books of his own on a wide variety of topics. In 2012 Ceri Levy asked Ralph to produce a single image for an exhibition of extinct birds Ghosts of Gone Birds, instead he produced an entire bookful that became Extinct Boids (2012).
Guy Tudor (b1935) is a bird artist who lives in New York city. He has illustrated many guides to birds and butterflies including Birds of Venezuela (with Steven Hilty & John Gwynne, Princeton 2003), A Guide to the Birds of Colombia (with Steven Hilty & William Brown, Princeton, 1986), and Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America (2009, with Robert Ridgway, Univ Texas Press). He has rightly been called ‘the Neotropics most renowned bird artist’ for his magnificent paintings in several field guides to the birds of South and Central America.
The book is illustrated with dozens of photos by dozens of photographers. We focus here on three photographers who we know well and who provided us with some of the most striking photos of birds.
Alex Badyaev is professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where he studies the genetics, development and evolution of complex traits in birds. As well as being an outstanding scientist Alex is one of the world’s best nature photographers, twice winning awards in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, as well as numerous other awards and accolades for his work. His photographs have appeared on the covers of more than a dozen scientific journals and in numerous magazines and books, and many of his best can be viewed (and purchased) at http://www.tenbestphotos.com. Alex grew up in Russia but did his PhD at the University of Montana where he studied house finches with Tom Martin.
Bruce Lyon is professor of biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he studies social selection, winter sociality and brood parasitism in birds. His research has taken him to the high arctic, the prairies, the California coast, and the wetlands of British Columbia and Argentina, as well as Costa Rica, Australia and China. He spends his spare time taking some amazing pictures of wildlife. His photos have been published widely in magazines and books, including cover photos for two editions of Alcock’s Animal Behaviour (Sinauer Associates) and illustrating many articles in magazines such as Natural History, Audubon, National Geographic and Equinox. In the early 1980 Bruce did his MSc research on parental care in Snow Buntings with Bob Montgomerie.
David Tipling has been photographing birds since he was a teenager and his images have appeared in over 40 books, including Mark Cocker’s recent Birds and People (2013, Vintage Publishing). David was named one of the world’s top 50 wildlife photographers by Digital Photography Magazine, and was won numerous awards his work. He attracted a flood of female fan mail when Marie Claire magazine identified him as one of the most adventurous outdoor photographers of the year.