Item #5000731 Watercolour, captioned 'Pennantian Parrot, This Species is Often Found about Port Jackson N.S. Wales'. W. K., signed thus.

Watercolour, captioned 'Pennantian Parrot, This Species is Often Found about Port Jackson N.S. Wales'

England: late-18th to early-19th century.

Watercolour on paper, 235 x 275 mm, mounted.

Early watercolour of the Pennantian Parrot (crimson rosella)

An appealing and early painting of the crimson rosella or "Pennantian Parrot", skilfully drawn and enigmatically signed in pen "WK'', further captioned "This Species is Often Found about Port Jackson N.S. Wales".

An appealing and early painting of the crimson rosella or "Pennantian Parrot", skilfully drawn and enigmatically signed in pen "WK'', further captioned "This Species is Often Found about Port Jackson N.S. Wales".

While the image has obvious similarity to the engraving that appears in Governor Phillip's account of the new settlement (The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, 1789), certain details differ from that engraving, notably in the depiction of the tree and in the foreground. The text of the Phillip account (p.154) notes that "This beautiful bird is not infrequent about Port Jackson, and seems to correspond greatly with the Pennantian Parrot, described by Mr. Latham in the supplement to his General Synopsis of Birds, p. 61…". Latham, the great English ornithologist and scientific illustrator, was the first to describe more than a hundred new Australian birds, effectively taking control of the territory when the return of the Cook voyages (1769-1780) produced a rich offering of drawings and skins, even live specimens. He worked as well from materials belonging to Banks and others. It was Latham who named the new parrot in honour of his friend Thomas Pennant, Psittacus pennantii.

Latham provided the fifty-five etched plates, including nineteen of birds, for the publication of Phillip's Voyage. The Pennantian Parrot was one of eight of these to be signed in its caption as based on a drawing by his daughter Ann Latham. We have not been able to identify the mysterious "WK" whose bold signature appears on this early work. The circle of artists and illustrators working in England on these newly recorded Australian species was interconnected, so it is possible that WK may have been part of the Lathams' artistic milieu.

On the verso of the painting there are identifying marks that show that it was at one time part of an early scrap album. Original paintings of Australia's celebrated ornithology from the first fifty years of European settlement are extremely rare.

Provenance: Robert Hutchinson (Sydney collector).

Condition Report: In very good original condition.

Price (AUD): $12,500.00

US$8,204.72   Other currencies

Ref: #5000731

Condition Report