Philip Reinagle RA (1749 - 1833)
RA Collection: Art
Many of Philip Reinagle's drawings in the Royal Academy collection are studies of birds, some of which are preparatory drawings for paintings. Birds feature in many of Reinagle's compositions (see his Diploma work) and he also produced a group of paintings depicting large assemblies of different types of birds, such as 'The King Eagle Pursued to the Sun by a Multitudinous Flock of Birds'. The source material for such compositions was almost certainly Sir Ashton Lever's museum or 'Holophusikon', which was open to the public in London between 1773 and 1806. The collection included ethnographic material, natural objects like fossils and shells as well as a large number of stuffed birds and animals. Reinagle provided illustrations for George Shaw's Museum Leverianum, containing Select Specimens from the Museum of the late Sir Ashton Lever, Kt. , London, 1792-96.
These drawings by Philip Reinagle are all preparatory studies for a set of paintings featuring large groups of exotic birds, commissioned for Houghton Hall, Norfolk, by George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford (1730-1791). Reinagle drew studies of many birds and shells featured in the compositions from Sir Ashton Lever's natural history collection which was then housed in London and open to visitors between 1774 and 1806. Reinagle was well acquainted with Lever's collection as he exhibited a painting of Lever's 'Hummingbirds' at the Royal Academy in 1786 and later provided some of the illustrations for George Shaw's Museum Leverianum, containing Select Specimens from the Museum of the late Sir Ashton Lever, Kt. , (London, 1792-96).
Reinagle produced several other paintings featuring large assemblies groups of birds, including 'The King Eagle Pursued to the Sun by a Multitudinous Flock of Birds'. These inventory-like paintings of different types of birds were made popular by the Dutch artist Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636-1695). Three examples of d'Hondecoeter's work have been hung at Holkham Hall, Norfolk since the mid-18th century and it is possible that Reinagle, while working on the Houghton Hall commissions, was able to view d'Hondecoeter's work at nearby Holkham.