Natural history

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"Birds and Flowers of Port Jackson"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1789]
Dimensions: 46.5 x 33.2 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 66


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Drawing of two birds perched on a tree stump against a plain background, with a detail of a branch from a flowering shrub to the right. The plant has a red-brown stem with digitate leaves composed of five narrow green leaflets, and yellow pea-like flowers. The large bird at lower left is depicted in left profile. It has a black crested head with a white patch on the side of the neck, and a white belly overlaid with black hatched lines and crescent-shaped markings. The upper parts are olive green-grey overlaid with darker hatched lines, and the primaries and tail feathers outlined and shaded. The smaller bird, above and to the right, has its body pointing right and its head turned in profile to the left. It has a dark-grey down-curved bill, a black head with a red patch above the eye and a white patch at the back of the head, and a white throat and underparts. The wing is yellow overlaid with grey detail and shading, and the tail is grey. 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 "BIRDS, & FLOWERS of PORT JACKSON - Natural Size ~ GEO RapeR. # 1789 ~".
  • The drawing is singed "GEO RapeR" and dated 1789.
  • The drawing is inscribed in pencil at bottom left and right with the number "66", and on the reverse "64".
  • The birds have been identified by Hindwood (1964) as the White-naped Honeyeater, Melithreptus lunatus (above) and the Eastern Whip-bird Psophodes olivaceus (below).
  • The plant resembles a drawing in the sketchbook by John Hunter in the National Library of Australia, Canberra, which John Calaby has identified as representing the Handsome Wedge-pea Gompholobium grandiflorum. (Calaby, John (ed). The Hunter Sketchbook. Melbourne, National Library of Australia, 1989 p. 98.)
  • 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) General Library and Picture Library: Picture Library order number 15166
  • 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.