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A superb original watercolor of a toucan for an unpublished work by John Gould.

This is Hart’s finished watercolor for an unpublished lithographed plate of a brilliant Central American bird. The drawing features a single central figure perched on a moss-covered branch; the bird is leaning out and away in profile, with its large tail erect; two additional aracaris are visible in the distant background, one is perched and the other is flying nearby. Hart’s watercolor was based on a preliminary pencil sketch by John Gould, which now resides in the Sauer Collection at the University of Kansas (Gould 2036).

The fiery-billed aracari is a native of Central America and is known for its impressive multi-colored bill.

We know from Gould’s article in Annals and Magazine of Natural History (volume 14, page 183) that in 1874 he had a strong interest in new toucan species. This makes sense as an approximate date for the drawings, too. The article and drawings suggest that around this time Gould may have been reassessing his second Monograph of the Rhamphastidae, wishing to update the work yet again. We are aware of at least six finished but unpublished toucan drawings done for Gould around this time (and possibly a seventh described in H. P. Kraus, The Ninetieth Catalogue). Six unpublished toucan drawings are mentioned in Henry Sotheran’s Piccadilly Notes, Number 9, and we have been able to trace six extant drawings. We purchased four of them, another is with the London drawings trade, and the other is at the University of Kansas in the Sauer Collection (Gould 1053). All of this makes for a rather exciting discovery: the final remnants of Gould’s unpublished third Monograph of the Ramphastidae.


John Gould’s estate;
Henry Sotheran’s Ltd.;
Item 1872, Piccadilly Notes, Number 9, London, 1933. “Six magnificent original water-colour drawings of toucans, unpublished. £5.5s each.”;
By repute, Mallett Antiques;
Private English collection;
Private sale, Dreweatts 1759 (2014)

Condition Description
Watercolor and graphite, with touches of gum arabic, on cream wove paper watermarked: “J WHATMAN."