Beautiful Artists' Copy, Of Birds and TexasScott and Stuart Gentling. Of Birds and Texas, Artists' Copy Limited to Only 25 Copies. Fort Worth: Gentling Editions, 1986. 137 acid-free sheets (22" x 28"). Consisting of two portfolios containing 50 gorgeous offset lithographic color plates of Texas birds and landscapes painted by Fort Worth artists Scott and Stuart Gentling, with commentary by the twin artists preceding each plate. Included in this monumental work is Texas author John Graves' humorous and very personal eleven-page essay entitled "Recollections of a Texas Bird Glimpser". This extra fine copy is one of only 25 artists' copies signed by Graves and the Gentling brothers. In addition to the artist's reproduced original signature on every painting, each plate also bears the added signature of one or both Gentling brothers, making this special copy very desirable. Other than the 25 artists' copies, only 500 limited edition copies were printed. This is a physically impressive set, dedicated to the memory of John James Audubon.
The plates and sheets of text are arranged in two linen-covered portfolios which are placed in a linen-covered box (23" x 29" x 2.75"), crafted by Austin's Jensen Bindery. Portfolio One consists of impressive Texas landscape plates numbered I through X. The forward is written by Harry Tennison and the introduction by Stuart Gentling. Portfolio Two consists of 124 sheets (numbered 34 through 137) and includes plates XI through L. These plates contain a varied assortment of Texas fowl, mostly life-sized: turkey vulture, cattle egret, wild turkey, snow goose, bufflehead duck, mockingbird, bobwhite quail, etc. The birds are set in various regional and seasonal Texas backgrounds, such as woodlands, farm scenes, swamplands, and beaches. Portfolio Two also includes two important pieces of Audubon memorabilia:
1. A facsimile reproduction of the first page of an original handwritten Audubon draft entitled "Red Shouldered Hawk", written from Scotland in 1830. In this initial draft, Audubon recollects observations of the hawk, which he refers to as "one of the Most noisy of all the Falcon Genus" (Audubon eventually painted the hawk three times). The transcription of Audubon's entire manuscript serves as the introductory commentary for the Gentlings' "Red Shouldered Hawk" plate.
2. A reproduction of Audubon's first published bird painting, "The Great Crow Blackbird" (1824). According to the Gentlings' engaging narrative of the history of the painting, the original painting had been considered lost until the brothers stumbled across it in 1985. They purchased it and proudly publish it here. Interestingly, the painting was originally published with alterations by another artist, making this its first publication in unaltered form.
The Gentling twins hatched the idea for this massive project in 1966, though they didn't begin the work until 1976. Eight years later-and with the collaboration of Graves (author of Goodbye to a River), Craig Jensen's bindery, and David Holman of Wind River Press in Austin-the Gentlings finally concluded this landmark project, certainly one of the greatest ornithological works to come from Texas. It comes in its original mailing box and is in extra fine condition.
Included with the work are the Prospectus (6pp.), "Suggestions for the Care and Reading of the Gentling Book of Texas Birds" (2pp.), three facsimiles from regional magazines concerning the Gentling brothers and their portfolio, and the original glossy pamphlet announcing the publication of the portfolio.
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