Description & Technical information

An Eastern or Western Meadowlark (Sturnella magna or Sturnella neglecta), a Common or European Starling (Sturnus Vulgaris) and an Asian Pied Starling (Gracupica contra).

Distinguishable by the distinctive black ‘V’ on its chest, the eastern meadowlark is a medium-sized bird that can be found throughout the eastern portion of North and South America. Their habitat includes open fields, pastures, prairies and meadows. Based on its plumage, the bird depicted at the top of this sheet appears to be a breeding adult. The eastern meadowlark shares similar characteristics, including colouring and size, with the western meadowlark, native to western North America. Given the striking similarity of the two species, Traviès could have been studying either type when executing this drawing.
The common starling, also known as the European starling, was originally native to Eurasia, but today has a vast range that extends across the globe. A medium-sized bird, they inhabit a wide variety of open areas, including city centres, woodlands and reedbeds. The plumage of the common starling varies based upon their breeding season, during which it appears to be iridescent shades of black, purple and green. Outside of the breeding season during the winter months, white spots show more prominently throughout their feathers. Highly social and gregarious, common starlings are often found in flocks which can grow to be larger than one million individuals.
Previously identified as an African pied starling, the bird depicted at the bottom of the sheet appears, based upon its plumage, to be another type of starling. Endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, the African pied starling is predominately black, except for a white lower belly and undertail. The bird depicted here could be an immature Asian pied starling, which has a similar plumage pattern, although it is not necessarily an exact match, as differences remain in colouration between the two. It remains difficult to determine precisely what bird Traviès was studying when making this drawing, as its pattern and colouring are quite unusual. 

Medium: Watercolour, pen and brown ink and wash, with framing lines in pencil
Signature: Signed Edouard Travies [partially cut off] in the lower margin.

Dimensions: 170 x 100 cm (66⁷/₈ x 39³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Marcel Jeanson, Paris
Thence by descent until 1988
Jeanson sale, Monaco, Sotheby’s, 16 June 1988, lot 314
Richard J. Schwartz, Upper Nyack, New York and Lyford Cay, Bahamas
Thence by descent until 2017.

Literature: Achille Richard, Oeuvres complètes de Buffon, Paris, 1838. 

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints