A goose, probably an Orinoco Goose, in profile, 1840
John Halphead Smith (1826 - 1896)
RA Collection: Art
A detailed watercolour of a bird shown standing and in profile. Its feathers are mostly speckled brown with an orange hue over the breast and lower body. There is a stripe of blue, white and green on the wing. The beak, legs and feet are red. This is probably an Orinoco Goose, or Neochen Jubata, a bird native to 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.
28 cm x 38 cm
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