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Laughing Jackass [Dacelo leachii]1791-1792

The watercolours are unsigned. They were previously attributed to Thomas Watling, but it is probable that they are the work of a number of artists (see Hindwood, K. A. - The "Sydney" bird paintings in The Australian Zoologist, 10 August, 1965, v.XIII, part 2, pp.83-92. ML ref. Q590.5/A). The drawings are also discussed by Hindwood in Historical associatons ... in The Emu, 1931, part 2, pp.100-102 (ML ref. 598.2901/E) -- information from old catalogue card.

It has been suggested that at least some of these drawings may have been executed in India, from skins collected in Australia, as stylistically they closely resemble works produced by artists working in that country: see Richard Neville, "A rage for curiosity", State Library of NSW, 1997, p.28 and Jane Lennon 'Art and Science: Early Australian natural history drawings and engravings', in "Australiana", August 1995, pp. 72-77.

A number of these drawings are closely related to works by the Port Jackson Painter in the Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, London. For instance no. 6 in this collection - the magpie - appears to be the original of the Port Jackson Painter's 'Australian Magpie': see Bernard Smith & Alwynne Wheeler, "The Art of the First Fleet", 1987, p.184