Natural history

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"Pondicherry Eagle", native name "Girvenera"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [between 1788 and 1797]
Dimensions: 31.7 x 21.8 cm
Reference: Watling drawing - no. 97


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Brown bird with white head and breast, black wing tips, yellow bill and yellow legs. The bird is facing to the left and perched on a tree stump, which has some foliage at its base, but is set against an otherwise plain background. The picture 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 the bottom "The Natives call this Bird Girvenera".
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The drawing is inscribed in ink at top right with the number "3.". 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 left, "Pondicherry Eagle Syn suppt. ii 32 var". This has been copied in ink at bottom "Pondicherry Eagle Lathams Syn Suppt. ii 32 variety of No. 2". The page reference is to Latham's Second Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds (1802).
  • This bird was more recently identified as the Red-backed sea-eagle, Haliastur indus, in Hindwood K. A. (1970).
  • The drawing is annotated in pencil at top left "Lambert Drawing I.41". 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 drawing is annotated in ink on the reverse, but the edges appear to have been cropped, resulting in the loss of some of the text. The text is repeated on a separate sheet attached to the mount below the drawing.
  • A separate sheet measuring 3.4 x 9.2 cm. is attached to the mount below the drawing. It is annotated in ink, "This Hawk lives a good deal on Fish which most of that Genus do that inhabit New South Wales, where there are several varieties, the likeness is strongly imitated. The Natives call it Girvenera."
  • 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 12097
  • 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).