Natural history

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"Gum-plant and Kangooroo of New Holland"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1789]
Dimensions: 46.5 x 32.4 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 56


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Drawing of a kangaroo in an arid landscape, featuring a grasstree. The kangaroo occupies the centre of the composition and is depicted in left profile. It is coloured grey, overlaid with darker hatched lines. The grass tree has a short dark brown trunk with black scale-like markings, and a tuft of grassy leaves with a tall flower-spike above it. The landscape setting includes a rocky outcrop at lower left, and is composed of a pale yellow wash overlaid with grey and grey-green detail of vegetation and darker shadows. The sky is largely unpainted but with washes of pale blue towards the top. 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 "GUM-PLANT, & KANGOOROO of NEW-HOLLAND ~ Reduced 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 "56", at bottom right "55", and on the reverse "9".
  • The subjects have been identified by John Calaby in Wheeler and Smith (1988) as the Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus, and a Grasstree, Zanthorrhoea sp.
  • 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 15156
  • 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. 150, p.143).