This title features breathtaking birds. It includes Edward Lear's incomparable parrots. Bought for large sums of money from travellers and merchants, parrots were the object of much fascination to 19th century European aristocracy for their colorful liveries and most of all for their ability to speak, sing, and imitate the human voice. Completed in 1832 when he was just 20, Edward Lear's set of 42 hand-colored lithographs entitled "Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots" comprise one of the first collections entirely dedicated to parrots in the history of scientific illustration; they include different African, Australian, and American species bred by the collection's subscribers, amongst whom were the artist's patrons Sir William Jardine and Prideaux John Selby, two eminent ornithologists and naturalists who sustained the artist, and inspired and directed his work. Unlike other avian illustrators who often worked with stuffed birds, the young and prodigiously talented Lear (1812-1888) made his drawings from live parrots, which allowed him to capture their expressions and produce remarkably lifelike illustrations. The youthful freshness, and the new medium of hand-colored lithography determined the originality and the immediate elegance of Lear's work. The impressive collection was reproduced in only 175 precious sets and was sold by subscription to Britain's most eminent scholars and wealthy collectors of living parrots. "The Psittacidae" successfully inaugurated Edward Lear's long and brilliant career as a celebrated illustrator and painter, professor of drawing to young Queen Victoria, traveller, and witty writer (he is also known for popularizing the limerick). With a brief zoological introduction and written 'portraits' of each bird by Sophia Willmann, Taschen's painstaking reprint brings Lear's parrots back to life for all to admire.