“Blackbird and Thrush” is a full-page book plate image from an 1854 printing of “Stories About Birds” (by a Young Naturalist), published by Darton & Co. All the illustrations for this little book are by Harrison Weir, whose name also features on the cover, in gold lettering, and this is possibly the earliest book cover, where that is the case. How proud he must have been! This painting appears as the ‘frontispiece’ at the start of the book, opposite the title page.
As the author is unknown, we could speculate on who that is…could it have been Tegetmeier, whose book “Profitable Poultry” is mentioned in the story about ‘Barn Door Fowls’, or could it equally have been Harrison Weir himself? I believe that the Preface points to Weir, the last line of which states: “To encourage this taste, to increase the love for the beautiful, and to cultivate that sense of kindness to animals, which a familiarity with them always produces, are the objects with which these anecdotes have been collected by (signed) A YOUNG NATURALIST.” Weir was already a popular artist with the Darton publishing family, and his fame as an illustrator was increasing during this period. If he was to get an opportunity like this with anyone, this seems a very likely scenario.
The colour printing itself, was done by another apprentice of Baxter, and personal friend to Weir, Leighton.( all the plates are marked Leighton Bros.) And this book comes just three years after other joint projects involving the art of Weir and the printing skills of the Leighton Bros. The book shows a moderate improvement in the early processes of colour printing and the effect of colour registration. Regardless of who wrote the book, we know that all the illustrations are from the hand of Weir. Available in A4, A3 and A2 sizing options.
Detail: 1854 – Blackbird and Thrush Book Cover: Stories About Birds, Illustrated by Weir.
Details: 1854 – Frontispiece: Blackbird and Thrush