Grey Peacock-Pheasant

Calcutta, India, circa 1800

Watercolours and ink on paper

44.2cm high, 53.5cm wide (62.5cm x 71.5cm framed)

Private UK Collection; acquired by the owner from a private auction in Lincoln in the 1970s.

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Full Description

Grey Peacock-Pheasant

The grey peacock-pheasant is a large greyish-brown bird with distinctive green or blue eyespots. Although the grey peacock-pheasant is generally classified with the pheasant or peafowl family, they also include the title of peacock in their name due the similarity of the brightly coloured eyespots displayed on their feathers. The colourful grey peacock-pheasant is painted with watercolours and ink on paper watermarked J WHATMAN. On the bottom right corner there is a Persian inscription, 'sang marvar' which translates loosely to, 'grey [stone] marvar'. The Persian translation of the word 'marvar' represents the Indian word 'Munowwar' which is the name for the polyplectron bicalcaratum bird, also known as the grey peacock-pheasant, which inhabited North-eastern India and Myanmar. One unusual feature of this painting is the raised decoration on the bird's body, feathers and eye which appear almost life-like, probably with the use of gum arabic. A pair of Company School paintings of Indian Egrets belonging to Lord Valentia (gifted by Lord Wellesley in Calcutta around 1803) which also depict birds with life-like textured feathers and a glint painted in their eyes are published in Welch, Room for Wonder: Indian Painting during the British Period 1760-1880, The American Federation of Arts, 1978, p. 58-59, pl. 18a, b and c.

Grey Peacock-Pheasant


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