Natural history

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"Pondicherry Eagle"

Artist: Watling, Thomas
Created: [between 1792 and 1797]
Dimensions: 28.8 x 25.7 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 96


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Chestnut brown bird with grey to white head and breast, with darker wing feathers. The body is facing to the left with the head twisted upwards and to the right. The bird is perched on a tree branch with one foot raised, and set against a plain background. The drawing is framed by a pencil border and annotated in ink and pencil.


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  • Thomas Watling]
  • The drawing is annotated in ink at lower left "One fourth of its Natural size. The stomach of the bird when taken was full of Egg shells."
  • The drawing is signed at the bottom towards the centre "Thomas Watling Delt.", but is undated.
  • The drawing is is annotated in ink in the top right corner with the number "2.". 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 at top left in pencil, "Pondicherry Eagle variety Syn sup ii 32 Probably to be made a species.". This has been copied in ink at lower right, "Pondicherry Eagle Latham Syn suppt ii-32 A variety of No. 3 probably this should be made a distinct species.". The page reference is to Latham's Second Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds (1802).
  • This bird was more recently identified as a Red-backed Sea-eagle, Haliastur indus, in Hindwood K. A. (1970).
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil at top left "Lambert Drawing I.42". This refers to a related set of drawings from the collections of the 13th Earl of Derby, held in the Library at Knowsley Hall, Lancashire.
  • 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 12096
  • James Lee of Kensington : purchased ; 1902
  • Data sheet available.
  • Latham, John. Supplement II to the General Synopsis of birds. London: Leigh, Sotheby, 1802.
  • 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 190, p. 178.)