How did you get there?

27 03 2016

Today I was watching an art documentary … you know, as I like to do.

During said passive education I was presented with a painting, a collaboration no less, between Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens : specifically, ‘Hearing‘ (1617-18) in their ‘The Five Senses‘ series.

Hearing ; from Prado Museum in Madrid ; click on image for original source

Hearing ; from Prado Museum in Madrid ; click on image for original source

Look a bit closer at this little birdie …

cropped from above image

cropped from above image

Unless I’m very much mistaken, and I absorbed nothing from my Grandma’s copy of ‘Complete Book of Australian Birds‘, that is a sulfur-crested cockatoo. This raucous little feathered fellow is native to Australia and New Guinea.

So … this was painted in 1617-18.

Mmm … time for me to check my history.

The Dutch apparently were visiting Australia’s coast line (north-west) from 1606 – though most of these visits seem to have been accidents of incorrect navigation and quite a proportion perished.

It seems more likely that perhaps the bird was brought back instead from New Guinea – considering the Portuguese and Spanish were gadding about there from the mid 1500s.

Or perhaps they were traded by Indonesians in touch with New Guinea, who in turn were trading with the Dutch and others.

Oh. I was hoping for a strange story.
This isn’t strange but actually quite reasonable.
Best you go about your day.



3 responses

27 03 2016

You’re lovely Karen! I love your posts.

28 03 2016
Mark Holsworth

Well worth pointing out the well travelled bird. There are a couple of paintings from about this time with a cockatoo in them, I’m not sure if it is the same bird. When I saw this painting I consulted with my father, a zoologist who suggested that Timor was the most likely place for Portuguese traders to acquire one.

28 03 2016

thank you Mark, that’s so interesting!
and lovely to have more expert thoughts

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