Drawing Copy-Books, were the brainchild of Vere Foster, a leading 19th century Irish educator, who convinced the Irish Board of Education to adopt a series of copy books, for the primary purpose of teaching the children about the various subjects, but to also get them actively involved, by attempting to copy the pictures. In this way, children with obvious talent were quickly identified and encouraged to pursue their passion, and/or turn it into a career. Many eminent artists were engaged to produce the themed drawings, and the series on “Birds and Animals” fell in the main, to Harrison Weir, although not exclusively. However, when examining the animal copybooks, in some cases the cover may be drawn by another artist, with all or most of the internal drawings being by Weir.
Most of the books appear to have been produced between 1868 and 1870 and all were published by Blackie & Son Ltd. The books proved to be extremely popular and further editions were subsequently issued. Weir’s fame as an animal illustrator was already well established, but the Copy Books once again took his talent directly into the homes of tens of thousands of children, boosting his popularity as an animal illustrator even further.
What is particularly important about these is that they show Weir’s drawing technique in the simplest and purest form. The artist’s ability to accurately portray physiological traits with just the simplest of lines, just reinforces our confidence in both his knowledge and talent in so doing.
This image is entitled: “Cochin China” and is from Copy Book O2. Prints currently available in A4,A3 and A2 sizing options.
Detail: 1870 – Cochin China Booklet Cover: Vere Foster’s Copy Book O2
Detail: 1870 – Cochin China Detail: Artist’s signature in plate