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Little Owl - John Gerrard Keulemans - Framed Print - 14"H x 11"W


Pied or Common Wagtail - John Gerrard Keulemans - Framed Print - 14"H x 11"W

Johannes Gerardus Keulemans (J. G. Keulemans) was a Dutch bird illustrator. For most of his life he lived and worked in England, illustrating a large number of the best-known ornithology books of the nineteenth century.

As a young man he collected animal specimens for museums such as the Natural History Museum in Leiden, whose director, Hermann Schlegel, encouraged and sent him on the 1864 expedition to West Africa. He was later persuaded by Richard Bowdler Sharpe to illustrate his Monograph of the Alcedinidae, or Family of Kingfishers.

One of his last great achievements was his contribution of over one hundred plates for Frederick Du Cane Godman's Monograph of the Petrels.

Keulemans is credited with describing the Cape Verde swamp-warbler, Calamodyta (Acrocephalus) brevipennis.

The little owl (Athene noctua) is a bird that inhabits much of the temperate and warmer parts of Europe, Asia, and north Africa. It was introduced into Britain at the end of the nineteenth century.

This owl is a member of the typical or true owl family, Strigidae, which contains most species of owl.

Owls have often been depicted from the Upper Palaeolithic onwards, but in the main they are generic rather than identifiable to species. The little owl is, however, closely associated with the Greek goddess Athena and the Roman goddess Minerva, and hence represents wisdom and knowledge.

A little owl with an olive branch appears on a Greek tetradrachm coin from 500 B.C. and in a 5th-century B.C. bronze statue of Athena holding the bird in her hand. The call of a little owl was thought to have heralded the murder of Julius Caesar.

The genus name, Athene commemorates the goddess, whose original role as a goddess of the night might explain the link to an owl. The species name noctua has, in effect, the same meaning, being the Latin name of an owl sacred to Minerva, Athena's Roman counterpart

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