Description & Technical information

This work is part of “A Group of Southeast Asian Birds”.
Made for the European market

Stock No.: A5271

The shimmering emerald feathers and raised black crest provides an arresting study of the male northern lapwing. Also known as the green plover or peewit, lapwings can be found widely across temperate Eurosiberia. In winter large flocks often migrate to China, India, and North Africa. Slender legs enable them to wade across their preferred habitats of wetlands, meadows, marshes and fields. During the breeding season, males perform captivating displays of aerial dives as they rotate from side to side whilst maintaining a constant call.

This work is part of “A Group of Southeast Asian Birds”.
This exceptionally vibrant group of twelve studies of Southeast Asian birds presents a series of highly accomplished works that demonstrate some of the finest examples of Chinese export painting.
Individual species are typically shown, with the exception of paradise flycatcher, with a female black-naped oriole, and the study of a paradise flycatcher, with a black-collared starling. All of the studies feature native vegetation such as blossoms, fruiting shrubs and tall grasses, providing ornamentation and emphasising their naturalistic context. The artist’s playful nature is also revealed as one of the spotted doves keenly observes a beetle as it unwittingly approaches it on the underside of a stem. The compositions also depict a graceful elegance, illustrated by the arching grasses evoking the curve of the jacana’s tail and the tips of the foliage echoing the bird’s sharply pointed feet and beak. The works are also typified by a soft palette of exquisitely rich mineral pigments, fine shading around the bird’s eyes creating expressive vitality and exceptionally detailed plumage, highlighting individual feathers. These qualities invite the viewer to truly contemplate the attributes of each species in their individual magnificence.
The present studies also bear comparison to works in other notable collections. The pheasant-tailed jacana appears in a similar manner to a red-crowned crane, plate 61 in the John Reeves Collection of Zoological Drawings from Canton, China. In both works the bird appears facing to their left with tall grass behind them, drooping under the weight of their seed heads. Both drawings depict rocks either underneath or beside the birds and the foliage behind the two birds is extremely similar in their pale green hues and depictions in small clusters. The birds also share the same poised expression, extremely fine detailing of the feathers and soft shading to demarcate the wings.
John Reeves worked for East India Company as a tea inspector. Spending time in Canton and Macao, under his direction he commissioned Chinese artists to paint the local flora and fauna, these works were sent back to England between 1817–1830 and were an invaluable contribution to the study and understanding of natural history.
The notable similarities between this exceedingly accomplished group and the Reeves collection firmly places this series within the canon of highly acclaimed Chinese export paintings, produced for distinguished western collections.

Origin:  Guangzhou (Canton) or Macau
Medium: Watercolour on pith paper
Dimensions: 35.5 x 30.5 cm (14 x 12 inches)