Elizabeth Gould (illustrator)

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Elizabeth Gould with a Cockatiel perching on her right hand

Elizabeth Gould (née Coxen) (18 July 1804 – 15 August 1841) was a British artist and illustrator, married to naturalist John Gould. She produced many illustrations for his ornithological works.

Life and artistic career[edit]

Elizabeth was born in Ramsgate, England. She married John Gould in January 1829, and he encouraged her to learn lithography and had his collaborator Edward Lear teach her. Once proficient with the art form, she created illustrations from John's drawings.[1] She produced over 600 lithographs, which appeared with the illustrations of Edward Lear in:

  • A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1831 and 1832).
  • The Birds of Europe (1832–37)
  • A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans (1834)
  • A Monograph of the Trogonidae (1835–38),
  • A Synopsis of the Birds of Australia (1837–38)
  • The Birds of Australia (1837–38)
  • Icones Avium (1837–38)

Her early illustrations have been described as stiff,[1] and while they improved with experience they remained quite formal compositions.[2]

The Goulds and the oldest of their surviving 4 children travelled to Australia in 1838. She spent much of her time in Hobart as a guest of Jane Franklin. While John travelled extensively collecting specimens, she drew and painted his collection.

Elizabeth made hundreds of drawings from specimens for the publications Birds of Australia and A Monograph of the Macropodidæ, or Family of Kangaroos, as well as illustrations for the ornithology volume of Charles Darwin’s Zoology of the Voyage of HMS Beagle.[3]

She bore one son while living in Australia, and gave birth to their eighth child when they returned to England in 1840.[4] She died shortly thereafter.

The drawings she produced in Australia were made into lithographs by H. C. Richter and published under his name.[5] Subsequently her reputation and importance became almost totally eclipsed by the fame of her husband.[2]

The tropical finch Chloebia gouldiae and the sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae were named in Elizabeth Gould's honour. A complete account of her life was published in the 1944 book, The Story of Elizabeth Gould.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Museum. Elizabeth Gould
  2. ^ a b A. H. Chisholm, Gould, Elizabeth (1804 - 1841), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, p. 465.
  3. ^ Linda Hall Library. Portraits of 12 Scientific Illustrators from the 17th to the 21st Century
  4. ^ Only 6 of the Gould's children survived to adulthood.
  5. ^ John and Elizabeth Gould Kenneth Spencer Research Library. John Gould, his birds and beasts

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]