The Watling collection

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King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)The Watling collection is the largest of the 3 collections. Thomas Watling (c1767-1797) was a trained artist and there is a superior quality to his work compared to the other painters and their collections described here. Watling, from Dumfries, was a convicted forger. It was not the quality of his forgery that lead to his being discovered but rather his poor choice of partner in crime who confessed and implicated Watling when arrested on another matter. The collection was originally composed of 512 numbered drawings but 24 of these (all birds) were missing by the time the Museum purchased it in 1902 for £52.10/-. Of the 488 extant drawings, 121 are signed by Watling. It is certain that some of the pictures are by at least one other artist – the artist or artists known as the Port Jackson Painter. The majority of the pictures are of natural history subjects (59 plants, 271 birds, 16 mammals, 15 fishes, 9 reptiles, 17 molluscs, 13 arthropods). The remaining 88 show topographical and ethnological subjects. Some of the many pictures showing named Aboriginal people and the implements and customs they followed have taken on great significance in recent years.

The Raper collection | The Watling collection | The Port Jackson Painter collection