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Johannes G Keulemans (1842-1912)

Johannes Gerardus Keulemans (1842-1912)

was born in Rotterdam 8th June 1842.  As a young man he collected animal specimens for the Natural History Museum in Leiden.  Encouraged by the director, Hermann Schlegel, Keulemans was sent on expedition to West Africa 1864.  Later In 1869, under the instruction of Richard Bowdler Sharp, he illustrated the Monograph of the Alcedinidae, “The Family of Kingfishers “(1868-1871).

Keulemans was prodigious in his output and was best known for illustrating a large number of the ornithology books during the nineteenth century.  He was commissioned to paint pictures of birds extensively throughout his career, and his prints were published continuously from 1867 to 1911.  His work is characterised by its consistency, showing little change over the course of his career and focused to an extraordinary degree on the rendering of fine detail.

Keulemans regularly provided illustrations for The Ibis and The Proceedings of the Zoological Society. He illustrated many important bird books, including Buller’s A History of the Birds of New Zealand (1873, 1888), William Vincent Legge’s History of the Birds of Ceylon (1880), Daniel Giraud Elliot’s Monograph of the Bucerotidae (hornbills) (1887–1892), Henry Seebohm’s Monograph of the Turdidae (thrushes) (1902), Edgar Leopold Layard’s Birds of South Africa (1887) and Henry Eeles Dresser’s History of the Birds of Europe (1871–1896). One of his last great achievements was his contribution of over one hundred plates for Frederick Du Cane Godman’s Monograph of the Petrels (1907–1910).

Keulemans moved to England, where he lived and worked for a majority of his life. He passed away in Ilford 29th March 1912.

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