This watercolour of an unidentified heron (family Ardeidae) by John Gerrard Keulemans designated Little Bittern, Ixobrychus minutus. Although the work is undated it would appear to have been part of his commission for Lord Lilford's classic Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Islands, published by R. H. Porter, London, 1885-97. Keulemans was commissioned to do the illustrations for this work but was unable to complete it because of illness. The majority of plates were done by Archibald Thorburn. The coloured chromolithogrphic plate exactly mirrors the stance of the Little Bittern in this watercolour, however the colourings of the plumage differ slightly.
Keuleman's art was highly detailed but often the lithographs produced failed to see the secondary hand colouring so wanting in contemporary works. However the results did not necessarily require colour, their detail being so precise that it excused the lack of colour. Illustrations such as this heron show only partial colour and still the beauty of the subject is relayed to the observer.