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Claude Gibney Finch-Davies was born in Dehli, India on 24th May 1875. He became a highly accomplished painter and ornithologist and is regarded as one of the finest bird artists alongside John Gould, James John Audobon and William MacGillivray.

 

 

finch davies 002.jpg

 

 

 

In keeping with customs of the Victorian era, Claude was sent to school in England at the age of six. Here he would remain until he enlisted in the British army in 1893. Claude was posted to various remote places in the Southern Cape of South Africa and this is where his interest in natural history was ignited. He would spend a large amount of his free time hunting, collecting and drawing birds. Even during the South African War, he continued to observe birds, and later used this information to incorporate into his notes.

 

Claude soon gained a reputation for his ornithological knowledge and people would bring him specimens or reports of sightings. He began to build a professional network with local museums and libraries, particularly the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria. In 1907 Claude joined the South African Ornithologists’ Union and in the same year his first scientific paper was published in its journal.

 

 

 

finch davies 003.jpg

 

 

The photograph below displays his drawings in one of his field notebooks. He provided vast notes about each of his illustrations, making various observations and on some pages even adding a feather from the bird he is depicted to accompany his work. This particular notebook held in the NHM Library's zoology collection was never published. Claude did however provide illustrations for some major publications, for example, Boyd Robert Horsburgh’s Game Birds and Water Fowl of South Africa, 1912.

 

 

finch davies 001.jpg

 

 

During the summer of 1915 Claude was sent to Cape Town for medical attention. It is presumed that this is where he met his future wife Aileen Finch. Aileen’s father agreed this marriage could go ahead, on the condition that they kept the name Finch. The couple married on 4th August 1916. They went on to have three children together; William Simon Charles, Bethea Alice, and Hugh Claude.

 

 

In 1920 Claude's reputation was threatened when he was accused of stealing plates from books in the Transvaal Museum and the South African Museum in Cape Town. He admitted to this accusation and put it down to ‘collector’s madness’. Despite not being charged he handed over 29 of his beautiful sketchbooks as compensation. The shame and humiliation of these revelations was all too much and he died soon after.

 

Sarah Sworder

Reader Services Information Assistant

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The Library catalogue is available online at Library Catalogue


If you wish to view these or any other items, please contact the library to arrange an appointment library@nhm.ac.uk or 020 7942 5460

 

Anthropology / Palaeontology

Modern origins : a North African perspective / edited by Jean-Jacques Hublin, Shannon P. McPherron

Dordrecht ; New York : Springer, 2012

A 7 q HUB

 

 

Caves in context : the cultural significance of caves and rockshelters in Europe / edited by Knut Andreas Bergsvik and Robin Skeates

Oakville, CT : Oxbow Books, 2012

A 3 q BER

 

 

Neanderthals in Wales : Pontnewydd and the Elwy valley caves / edited by Stephen Aldhouse-Green, Rick Peterson and Elizabeth A. Walker

Oakville, CT : Oxbow Books, 2012

A 6 q ALD

 

 

Botany

Bildatlas der Moose Deutschlands. Fasc. 1, Grimmiaceae. Fasc. 1b, Sphagnaceae / Michael Lüth

Freiburg : Michael Lüth, 2011.

BRYOPHYTES 582.32(4) LUT

 

 

Bildatlas der Moose Deutschlands. Fasc. 7, Brachytheciaceae bis Sematophyllaceae / Michael Lüth

Freiburg : Michael Lüth, 2010.

BRYOPHYTES 582.32(4) LUT

 

 

Canyon Country wildflowers : a guide to common wildflowers, shrubs and trees / Damian Fagan

2nd ed.

Guilford, Conn. ; Helena, Mont : Falcon Press, 2012.

581.9(792) FAG

 

 

Sonoran Desert wildflowers : a guide to common plants / Richard Spellenberg 2nd ed.

Connecticut : Globe Pequot Pr 2012.

581.9(791) SPE

 

 

Die Farnpflanzen Südtirols / Reinhold Beck, Thomas Wilhalm

Bolzano, Italy : Naturmuseum Südtirol, 2010.

FERNS 582.35(436) BEC F

 

Entomology

The dragonflies of Hong Kong / Tam Tze-wai ... [et al.], Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department = Xianggang qing ting / Yu nong zi ran hu li shu, Tan Zihui ... [deng].

Hong Kong : Friends of the Country Parks : Cosmos Books, 2011

E DC ODONATA T.17

 

 

Geheimnisvolle Pflanzengallen : ein Bestimmungsbuch für Pflanzen- und Insektenfreunde / Heiko Bellmann

Wiebelsheim : Quelle & Meyer, 2012

E 10C o BEL

 

General

Chiapas : estudios sobre su diveridad biológica / Fernando Álvarez (coordinator general)

México : UNAM, 2011

L 72H q ALV

 

Mineralogy

Statistics in volcanology / edited by H.M. Mader ... [et al.]

London : Geological Society, 2006

M 551.21 MAD

 

Ornithology (Tring)

Atles dels ocells nidificants de Catalunya, 1999-2002 = Catalan breeding bird atlas, 1999-2002 / editat per Joan Estrada ... [et al.].

Barcelona : Lynx Edicions, 2004.

ORNITHOLOGY 72H ATL   

                   

 

The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world : the ultimate reference source and identifier for 1600 birds, profiling habitat, plummage, nesting and food / David Alderton ; with illustrations by Peter Barrett.

London : Lorenz, 2012.

ORNITHOLOGY 70 ALD     

                  

 

The Kirtland's warbler : the story of a bird's fight against extinction and the people who saved it / William Rapai.

Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c2012.

ORNITHOLOGY 18(14) RAP   

                

 

Macao Bird Report

[S.l., China] : Jinan Univerisity Press, 2012

ORNITHOLOGY 73H MAC     

                 

 

Ornitologia italiana : identificazione, distribuzione, consistenza e movimenti degli uccelli italiani. Vol. 7, Paridae - Corvidae / Pierandrea Brichetti, Giancarlo Fracasso ; disegni di Silvia Gandini.

Bologna : Oasi A. Perdisa, 2003-

ORNITHOLOGY 72I BRI                        

ORNITHOLOGY 72I BRI (DVD)   

              

 

The owl that fell from the sky : stories of a museum curator / Brian Gill.

Wellington, N.Z. : Awa Press, 2012.

ORNITHOLOGY 96A GIL