Natural history

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"American Avoset"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [between 1792 and 1797]
Dimensions: 17.9 x 14.7 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 334


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Bird in profile, facing to the right, its long neck bent so that the bill is pointing downwards. It is depicted standing on a green to yellow mound surrounded by water, which is represented by a gradated wash of pale blue-grey through pale yellow and pink to pale blue-grey, overlaid in the foreground with short horizontal grey lines. The bird has a red-brown head and neck, white back and underparts, and black wing, rump and tail, with a pale yellow strip on the wing. The drawing is framed by a pencil border and annotated in ink and pencil


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  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing is annotated in ink at bottom "22 inches from the extremeties. This Bird is found along the shores of the sea coast,".
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The drawing is inscribed in ink at top right with the number "265.". This refers to the catalogue list compiled by John Latham c. 1801 which was acquired with the drawings, and is filed with them at the end of the Watling Drawings series.
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil at top "American Avoset. Syn. 5. 295". This has been copied in ink at bottom, "American Avoset Latham Syn 5. p. 255 Pl 92". The page reference is to Latham's General Synopsis of Birds (1781-85).
  • This bird was more recently identified as the Red-necked Avocet, Recurvirostra novaehollandiae in Hindwood K. A. (1970).
  • 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 reference number 12334
  • James Lee of Kensington : purchased ; 1902
  • Data sheet available.
  • Latham, John. A General Synopsis of Birds. London: Benjamin White, 1781-85.
  • Hindwood K. A. 'The "Watling" drawings with incidental notes on the "Lambert" and the "Latham" drawings', Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales for the years 1968-69 (1970).
  • This drawing is reproduced in Wheeler, A. and Smith, B, The Art of the First Fleet and other early Australian Drawings. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1988. (Plate 209a, p. 196).