Natural history

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"Bird and Flower of Port Jackson"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1789]
Dimensions: 47.4 x 33.3 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 49


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Drawing of a bird perched on a tree stump against a plain background, with details of two plants on either side. The bird is depicted in right profile. Its head is coloured with black wash overlaid with black hatched lines, except for an area of blue wash around the eye and a white patch on the back of the neck. The underparts are white with grey shading and a line of dark hatched lines on the breast. The wings and tail are yellow-brown with grey patches, overlaid with darker hatched lines and detail of individual feathers. The tree stump is pale brown-grey,shaded to the left. The plant to the right is set on a small area of grey-green wash, and has a basal rosette of brown wash overlaid with red cross-hatched lines. The flowers are pale pink with five rounded petals borne on slender brown stems. The plant to the left has a blade-like leaf which sheathes a brown and blue stem, which terminates in a blue flower with three petals and orange stamens. 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.


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  • George Raper]
  • The drawing is inscribed in black ink at bottom "BIRD & FLOWER of PORT JACKSON 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 "49", at bottom right "48", and on the reverse "2".
  • The bird was identified by Hindwood (1964) as the Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis. The plants were identified by John Calaby in Wheeler and Smith (1988) as a native Iris, Patersonia sp., and a Sundew, Drosera sp.
  • John Calaby notes the similarity of the plant on the left to a drawing in the sketchbook by John Hunter in the National Library of Australia, Canberra. He identifies the plant as the Leafy purple flag Patersonia glabrata. (Calaby, John (ed). The Hunter Sketchbook. Melbourne, National Library of Australia, 1989 p. 74.)
  • 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 15149
  • 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.
  • Wheeler, A. and Smith, B, (eds.) The Art of the First Fleet and other early Australian Drawings. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1988 (pl. 183, p. 171).