The 300 Years of Shoes collection - research & making - 1835 - Nebulous in a State of Rest

Sketch - by the House of Embroidered Paper

Early nineteenth century botanical illustrations and engravings are wonderful for their detail, intricacy, accuracy and (just occasionally) for their apparently rather random diversions fact. The images of this bird with it's tail feathers raised and lowered (see below) have become two of my favourites. They now decorate the shoe that will eventually sit as either second or the third in my planned 300 year time line of shoes, spanning 1720-2020.

My early research for The Regency Collection (which the first five pieces from the 300 years of Shoes Collection will be exhibited alongside) involved a visit to the British Museum. Reading this sign in the Enlightenment Gallery helped inform my understanding of the type of world view that climaxed during the period of the formal Regency of which a fascination for both Botany and Zoology was an integral part. This provoked me to search for examples of the sorts of images/illustrations produced by those individuals who knew such passion.

"...As subjects of the zoological artist's attentions, some animals are more equal than others. There is no doubt that bird illustrations predominate -- in quantity, arguably in quality, and certainly in popularity. This reflects the special fascination that birds have had for humans throughout the centuries, owing at least in part to their often colorful and sometimes spectacular plumage, as well as the awe inspired by their mastery of the skies....

...Until the nineteenth century, many ornithological illustrations, usually drawn from skins or mounted specimens, showed a bird perched on a bare branch. Despite some noteworthy exceptions, it was the art of John James Audubon and of John Gould and his colleagues (particularly Josef Wolf) that first consistently imparted motion and life to bird illustrations.

Colored lithographs were an ideal medium to capture the vivid hues of a bird's plumage, with colored engravings running a close second..." -

Following this thread I came across books with titles such as:



Please see:

I found the bird that would become the subject of my 1835's style shoe (and capture my heart) on several sites including: and

For the book in which these particular images featured and information about its author please see: tells us the following::


Francois Levaillant was born in Suriname. He was one of the first naturalists to study birds in their natural habitat, and traveled widely in his pursuits. Jaques Barraband is considered the finest French bird painters of the period, and illustrated many of Levaillant's ornithologies.


Le Vaillant, François, 1753-1824 (Author), Barraband, Jacques, 1767?-1809 (Artist)