A duck, probably a Silver Teal, in profile, 1838
John Halphead Smith (1826 - 1896)
RA Collection: Art
A detailed watercolour of a duck depicted on the water in profile. The bird has a black and white head with a yellow and black beak. The rest of the feathers are speckled brown with a stripe of grey, white and green on the wings. This is probably a Silver Teal or anas versicolor, found mostly in South America.
This drawing is one of a set of twelve watercolours of ducks and geese. The group is part of the bequest of Gilbert Bakewell Stretton, the artist's grandson, and is accompanied by a letter stating that the drawings "are specimens or duplicates of a series painted by my grandfather John Homes Smith of Worcester from living and dead birds for T.C. Eyton (Author of A Monograph on the Anatidae or Duck Tribe London 1838). This gentleman intended at the time to publish an elaborate illustrated book on this branch of ornithology but I cannot discover that this was ever done."
Eyton's book was published but the illustrations, though very similar to this set, are by Edward Lear and other artists not J.H. Smith. It is possible, as Stretton suggests, that these drawings are merely specimens produced for the author's perusal or that they were for another of Eyton's book projects which never came to fruition. Eyton published an abridged version of the Duck Tribe and a number of other books on ornithology but Smith's illustrations do not feature in any of these publications.
27.7 cm x 36.6 cm
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