Natural history

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"Bird and flower of Port Jackson"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1789]
Dimensions: 49.4 x 32.8 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 57


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Drawing of a Kookaburra perched on a tree stump against a plain background, with a detail of a flowering shrub to the left. The bird is depicted with its body pointing to the right and its head turned in profile to the left. Its upper parts are coloured predominantly in various shades of brown overlaid with hatched and dotted lines in darker tones, and its underparts are off-white overlaid with grey hatched lines and patches. The wing is dark brown overlaid with black hatched lines, a white patch, and pale blue crescent-shaped markings. The tail is brown with white edges and barred with black. The tree stump is pale grey-brown overlaid with brown contour-like brush marks, and shaded to the right. The plant is positioned towards the lower left of the composition and has narrow, grey-green leaves arranged on a brown stem, and yellow flowers with five petals. 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 and 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 and right with the number "57".
  • The bird was identified by Hindwood (1964) as the Kookaburra Dacelo gigas. ITIS lists the current preferred taxonomic name for this species as Dacelo novaeguineae.
  • 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 15157
  • 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.