Natural history

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"Birds of Port Jackson"

Artist: Raper, George
Created: [1790]
Dimensions: 47.6 x 32.8 cm
Reference: Raper Drawing - no. 43


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Drawing of two birds perched on a tree stump looking towards a small flying insect at the centre left of the composition, against a plain background. The smaller bird at the top is depicted in left profile. It has a black head and breast, orange back, grey wing and black tail with grey tips, all overlaid with hatched lines in darker tones. The larger bird below is depicted with its body pointing to the right and its head turned to the left. It has a large black bill, a blue head with a black stripe around its neck, a blue wing, and pale yellow to white underparts overlaid with darker hatched lines. The tree stump is coloured blue-grey, pink, brown and grey, and shaded to the left. 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 "BIRDS of PORT-JACKSON Natural Size - GEO: RapeR.# - 1790 ~".
  • The drawing is signed "GEO: RapeR" and dated 1790.
  • The drawing is inscribed in pencil at bottom left with the number "43", at bottom right "42", and on the reverse "35".
  • The birds were identified by Hindwood (1964) as the Red-backed Wren, Malurus melanocephalus and the Sacred Kingfisher, Halcyon sanctus. ITIS lists the current preferred name for this species as Todirhamphus sanctus.
  • 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 15143
  • 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.