Elizabeth Gould (illustrator)

Elizabeth Gould ( born July 18, 1804 in Ramsgate, England; † August 15, 1841 in England) was an English illustrator and the wife of the zoologist John Gould. For his ornithological books, she made many lithographs. Her work has been overshadowed, however, so that their reputation and their significance for the scientific work of John Gould almost fell through the glory of her husband into oblivion.


Elizabeth Gould was born into a military family. She worked as a governess with a family in London and taught Latin, French and music. At the age of twenty-four, she married John Gould, with whom she had seven children - three daughters ( Eliza, Louisa and Sarah Gould ) and four sons ( John, who died in infancy, John Henry, Franklin, and Charles Gould ).

Her husband encouraged her to learn the new printing process of lithography. For his first book A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains from sketches she drew her husband bird drawings on large limestone slabs. At this early work is still the great inexperience of Elizabeth Gould to detect. To improve their lithographic technique, it was taught by John Gould employee Edward Lear.

As of May 1838, she accompanied together with the British naturalist John Gilbert her husband on his research trip to Australia and Tasmania. She took with her ​​eldest seven year old son and had the three youngest children back in England. In September 1838 they arrived in Tasmania and made acquaintance with the English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane Griffin (Lady Franklin ). Soon after, she gave birth to her sixth child in Hobart, Tasmania. They named it after John Franklin, in whose house she often stayed during their stay, while John Gould did field research. His results implemented it in this time drawing. In August 1840, the couple returned with the two children back to England. Their work could not accomplish. She died the following year on August 15, 1841 37 years after the birth of her seventh child in the puerperium.


Elizabeth Gould made ​​at more than 600 lithographs and drawings of birds, mammals and plants. Many of her works were published in the following publications of her husband:

  • A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains (1831 and 1832, 80 plates)
  • The Birds of Europe ( 1832-37, 449 plates)
  • A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans (1834, 34 plates)
  • A Monograph of the Trogonidae ( 1835-38, 36 plates)
  • A Synopsis of the Birds of Australia ( 1837-38, 73 plates)
  • The Birds of Australia ( 1837-41, 84 plates)
  • Icones Avium ( 1837-38, 18 plates)

After her death, John Gould asked, who was himself rather entrepreneur as a draftsman, the lithographer Henry Constantine Richter to take over the work of his wife. Many lithographs by Elizabeth Gould were taken over by judges for The Birds of Australia and published under his name.

Mistakenly, many works by Elizabeth Gould be described as works of her husband today. John Gould commissioned in the course of time other artists for the images of his works, including Joseph Wolf and William Matthew Hart. Most of the drawings are from a artist agency under Gabriel Bayfield, who worked for John Gould 1831-1861.


John Gould named the Gouldian finch ( Chloebia gouldiae ) after her; Nicholas Aylward Vigors Gould Sunbird ( Aethopyga gouldiae ) and George Robert Waterhouse Gould mouse ( Pseudomys gouldii ).


  • Rolf Dircksen / Jens Dircksen: I know the birds: songbirds, woodpeckers, Roller -type, sailors, cuckoos, Fackelverlag, Olten / Stuttgart / Salzburg 1967 drawings by Elizabeth Gould and John Gould.