Natural history

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"Bird and Flower of Port Jackson"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1789]
Dimensions: 48.2 x 32.3 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 38


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Drawing of a bird perched on a tree stump with vegetation at the base against a plain background, with a detail of a flowering plant to the left. The bird is depicted with its body pointing to the right, and its head turned in profile to the left. It is predominantly coloured grey blending to pale yellow on the belly and overlaid with darker hatched lines, except for a red patch around the eye and black markings on the wing and the tail, which is long and fanned. The tree stump is pale brown overlaid with grey contour-like brush marks and shaded to the left. The patch of ground at its base is coloured pale brown overlaid with grey lines, and details of a twig and vegetation with grey-green leaves and grey-pink flowers. The detail of the plant to the left of the composition shows a thick, ridged stem with red and yellow pea-like flowers borne alternately up it. The drawing is framed with a thick black ink line and a triple-banded border, the central band of which is coloured with a pink wash and contains the title, signature and date. Most of the outer band appears to have been lost through the drawing having been cropped.


hide notes

  • George Raper]
  • The drawing is inscribed in black ink at bottom "BIRD, & FLOWER of PORT-JACKSON - former 1/4 Less Natural Size - GEO: RapeR.# 1789 ~".
  • The drawing is signed "GEO: RapeR"and dated 1789.
  • The drawing is inscribed in pencil at bottom left with the number "38", at bottom right "37" and on the reverse "40".
  • The bird was identified by Hindwood (1964) as the Channel-billed Cuckoo, Scythrops novaehollandiae.
  • John Calaby notes the similarity of the bird and plant in this drawing to two separate drawings in the sketchbook by John Hunter in the National Library of Australia, Canberra. He identifies the plant as the Broom bossiaea Bossiaea scolopendria. (Calaby, John (ed). The Hunter Sketchbook. Melbourne, National Library of Australia, 1989 p. 114 and 132.)
  • The author of this catalogue record is Suzanne Stenning.
  • By permission of the trustees of the Natural History Museum (London).
  • Two sets of transparencies held in the Natural History Museum (London) Zoology Library and Picture Library: Picture Library order number 15138
  • Miss Eva Godman donated 1962
  • Data sheet available.
  • Hindwood, K.A. 'George Raper: an Artist of the First Fleet', Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 50, Pt. 1, 1964 pp.32-57.