Daniel Giraud Elliot

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DANIEL GIRAUD ELLIOT, American (1835-1915)
Elliot Pheasant print

American zoologist Daniel Giraud Elliot (1835 - 1915) was instrumental in reviving the art of sumptuous, extravagant and exquisitely produced color-plate books on nature, particularly those highlighting the study of birds and mammals. Tapping some of the best artistic talent of the day, including Joseph Wolf and Joseph Smit, he published lavish, richly colored folios amidst the smaller, more modern, and less expensive techniques which had begun gaining popularity in the late 1800s. The books included A Monograph of the Phasianidae or Family of Pheasants (1870-72), A Monograph of the Paradiseidae or Birds of Paradise (1873), and A Monograph of the Felidae or Family of Cats (1878).

 The Monograph of the Felidae, or Family of Cats is viewed as one of the most important scientific books of the period. With its dramatic illustrations capturing both the appearance and behavior of these unique animals, each subject is seen in its natural habitat. Born in New York City in 1835, Elliot traveled throughout Europe and Asia as a young man, pursuing his interest in ornithology. Over the years, he created what came to be considered the finest private collection of bird and animal specimens. In 1869, the collection was acquired in its entirety by the American Museum of Natural History, of which Elliot was a founder. Elliot was also curator of zoology at the Field Museum in Chicago, and was asked to join the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899 to study and document wildlife along the Alaska coast.

Part of Elliot's legacy is the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal awarded by the National Academy of Sciences. The award recognizes "meritorious work in zoology or paleontology published in a three to five year period."