Elizabeth Gould (illustrator)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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] Her brother Charles Coxen 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. Her brother Charles Coxen also immigrated to Australia, where he and his wife Elizabeth Coxen were also interested in natural history and members of the Queensland Philosophical Society.

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 Gouldian finch (Chloebia gouldiae) and Mrs. Gould's sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae) were named in her honour. A complete account of her life, The Story of Elizabeth Gould was published by Alec Chisholm in 1944. Little was known about her until 1938 when a collection of her letters written from Australia was discovered. These letters were the basis for the book. Now housed in the Mitchell Library, the letters reveal her as a charming, cultured, and musically and artistically talented woman whose contributions were overshadowed by the fame of her husband, John Gould, who was a self-taught ornithologist as well as a businessman and artist. Although he spent less than two years in Australia, his monumental seven-volume publication The Birds of Australia remains the definitive work on the subject. The magnificent colour plates, some 681 of them, were executed by Elizabeth, a talented artist who shared his natural history interests.[6]

Portrayals in popular media[edit]

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
  6. ^ "The Goulds, John Gould (1804-1881)". Avicultural Review. The Avicultural Society of New South Wales (ASNSW). 15 (1). January 1998.
  7. ^ Johnston, Dorothy (November 4, 2016). "Review: The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley and The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J Church". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Winners and finalists". Queensland Literary Awards. 2017. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]