Lot 19 of 153:

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$2,000 - $3,000

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Trochilus colubris

Brasher, Rex

No place



Original watercolor painting of two hummingbirds, the female nesting, the male perched on a short branch from which hangs an apple. On thin cardboard, 10x14, to which is hinged a protective overleaf on the front and a map on the U.S., hand-colored to indicate the birds' range, on the back. Signed by Brasher in the bottom of the image. Rare original watercolor by one of the foremost American ornithological illustratators. Brasher's great work, "Birds and Trees of North America," published in Kent, Connecticut, 1929-32, in 12 volumes, contains 867 hand-colored plates, and is legendary among collectors of ornithological books. This watercolor is in the same format as the pictures in the published work, and is numbered 428 in pencil on the front overleaf, which is the same number as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird plate in "Birds and Trees," but it is different from the one that was published. Rutherford W. Witthus, Curator of Literary and Natural History Collections at the University of Connecticut Library, and a leading expert in the works of Rex Brasher, comments on the watercolor: "This is all very curious. The painting that we have of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (number 428) pictures four birds on an indentified tree. On the left are immature male and female, on the right, mature male and female. There is little similarity in the birds in our painting with those in yours. I cannot account for this. It is possible that Brasher rejected one painting and then sold or gave it to the person listed on the back of your painting. There is so little documentary evidence left behind with the Brasher family that further investigation there would be fruitless... I wish I had more information. As I said earlier, this is the first time since I have been curator that another Brasher original watercolor has surfaced..." The name on the back of the painting is the rubberstamp of Caroline Smurthwate of Phoenix, Arizona. Caroline was the daughter of Eliza Ann Connell, and the two formed an important collection of Piipash pottery in the early years of the twentieth century.

Lot Amendments

Lower corner of board with ¼x½" piece nicked off, well away from the image, else near fine, bright, a lovely, detailed image.

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