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A non-descript bird found at Botany Bay in New South Wales

Date: 1791
226 x 366 mm, 30 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00044265

User Terms

    This engraving features a naive view of an emu and was probably based on an ink and watercolour sketch by George Raper. Europeans began settling in Australia in 1788 and produced a prolific number of drawings and accounts of newly discovered Australian flora and fauna. The bird is described as approaching 'nearest to the Emu of South America or the Casswary of Java'.
    SignificanceThe emu is an iconic Australian bird that has been incorporated into the national coat of arms. This engraving illustrates the colonial interest in Australian flora and fauna. It is an expression of the European experience in a new land.
    HistoryThe arrival of European settlers in Australia in 1788 produced a wealth of descriptions and recordings of Australian flora and fauna. Often the natural history drawings were copied or taken from earlier depictions, with artists such as George Raper being popular templates. This engraving of a non-descript bird found at Botany Bay appears to be based on George Raper's 1791 ink and watercolour sketch of an 'Emu of Port Jackson'.

    A description of the bird featured in Mary Ann Parker's ' A Voyage Round the World' published in 1795. Parker wrote 'their plumage is remarkably fine, and rendered particularly curious, as each has two feathers generally of light brown; the wings are so small as hardly to deserve the name; and though incapable of flying, they can run with such swiftness that a greyhound can with difficulty keep pace with them. The flesh tastes somewhat like beef'.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: A non-descript bird found at Botany Bay in New South Wales

    Web title: A non-descript bird found at Botany Bay in New South Wales

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