Saturday November 5, 2005

What was flowering or flying around Mosman in 1789?

Glossy black cockatoo - George Raper

Glossy black cockatoo - George Raper

Linda Groom, Pictures Librarian at the National Library of Australia, informs us of a significant new acquisition that relates to Mosman and the Sirius56 First Fleet watercolours of birds and flowers

They are attributed to George Raper, Midshipman of the Sirius, and at least two have been dated to no later than 1789.

"The seasonality of the species depicted, and the date, make it very likely that many of them were painted when the Sirius was careened at Mosman Bay, June to November 1789. That would make them a kind of survey of the species present in Mosman in 1788 or 1789," says Linda.

Following is the full press release from the National Library:

National Library purchases rare and significant watercolours for the nation

The National Library of Australia announces one of the most significant acquisitions in its 105 year history. The Ducie Collection, purchased from the Moreton family in England, is the largest and most important collection of First Fleet art to have come on the market in the last 50 years.

The 56 watercolours are attributed to George Raper, a midshipman on the flagship ‘Sirius’, and one of the most talented First Fleet artists. They show the birds and flowers of the then Port Jackson area as Raper saw them between 1788 and 1790. Many are the first visual records by a European artist of particular species such as the swamp lily and wedding bush and reflect the awe and wonder of the sailors as they encountered Australian birds and plants for the first time.

Jan Fullerton AO, National Library Director-General highlighted the significance of the acquisition. “This is a major milestone for the National Library. I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to purchase these exquisite watercolours of immense historical importance for the nation. We plan to display some of the paintings in the major touring exhibition National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries to open in December this year. All 56 watercolours will be accessible on our website.

— Posted by Mosman Library in  |  Permalink

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