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Toco Toucan, Ramphastos toco

John Gould, Henry Constantine Richter1852

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) from "A Monograph of the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans" 1852-1854, by John Gould. This the largest and probably the best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America. It is a common attraction in zoos.

During the 19th century, John Gould (1804-81) brought to world attention the splendour of the planet's avian diversity. In an era infatuated with natural history, these gloriously modelled and coloured images satisfied the demands of passionate naturalists.

Gould was not a gifted draftsman, but he was a determined entrepreneur. He engaged a succession of superb illustrators to create 3000 sumptuous images of birds from Australasia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Gould used print-making media for their ability to create multiple original impressions and the etchings is his publications demonstrated precision and delicacy of line. Applying colour remained the most time-consuming part of these processes, with images painstakingly hand-coloured either on the plate or on the print.

For Gould, birds provided the most spectacular subjects. This illustration of Toco toucan appeared in the 2nd edition of "A Monograph of the Ramphastidae or Family of Toucans", which was produced in three parts. It included 52 plates, all by Henry Constantine Richter."

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