C1838

Ornithorhynque Paradoxa, Ornithorhynchus Paradox, Blumenb. [Platypus]

Finely engraved French image of a Platypus. The first description and known sighting was from a captured animal in November 1797 by David Collins on the Hawkesbury River. When the first skin sent by John Hunter, reached Europe it was … Read Full Description

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S/N: DDSN-ANI-AA-007–230643
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Details

Full Title:

Ornithorhynque Paradoxa, Ornithorhynchus Paradox, Blumenb. [Platypus]

Date:

C1838

Artist:

Unknown

Condition:

In good condition.

Technique:

Copper engraving with original hand colouring

Image Size: 

100mm 
x 110mm

Paper Size: 

253mm 
x 147mm
AUTHENTICITY
Ornithorhynque Paradoxa, Ornithorhynchus Paradox, Blumenb. [Platypus] - Antique Print from 1838

Genuine antique
dated:

1838

Description:

Finely engraved French image of a Platypus.

The first description and known sighting was from a captured animal in November 1797 by David Collins on the Hawkesbury River. When the first skin sent by John Hunter, reached Europe it was thought to be a hoax and during the nineteenth century is was suspected that it lay eggs, but it was not until 1884 that final proof was obtained.

First sighting and capture November 1797

‘….. made up the whole catalogue of anumals that were known at this time, with the exception which must now be made of an amphibious animal, of the mole species, one of which had been lately found on the banks of a lake near the Hawkesbury.

First published description 1799

‘…Of all the Mammalia yet known it seems the most extraordinary in its conformation, exhibiting the perfect resemblance of the beak of a Duck engrafted on the head of a quadraped. So accurate is the similitude, that, at first view, it naturually excites the idea of some deceptive preparation by artificial means…

Not a Hoax 1800

Of this most extraordinary genus the first description appeared in the Naturalist’s Miscellany; but as the individual there described was the only one which had been seen…… Two more specimens, however, having been very lately sent over from New Holland, by Governor Hunter, to Sir Joseph Banks, the suspicions before mentioned are now completely dissipated.

Common names            Platypus, duck-billed Platypus
Modern binomial name Ornithorhynchus anatinus
First described                Shaw 1799
Distribution                      SA, VIC, TAS, NSW & QLD

Reference                        The Mammals of Australia, Strahan, 2nd edition. p.36-38 ill.36,38

Biography:

John William Lewin (1770-1819)

Lewin was a naturalist and artist, the son of William Lewin, a fellow of the Linnean Society and author of The Birds of Great Britain. He arrived in Sydney in 1800 and lived at Parramatta. He went on a number of early exploring expeditions in the colony including with Colonel William Paterson exploring the Hunter River and in November 1801. In 1804 Lewin was granted a 100-acre (40 ha) farm near Parramatta. He accompanied Macquarie’s party when the governor first crossed the Blue Mountains via William Cox’s new road in May 1815. In 1817 and 1818 Macquarie commissioned drawings of plants collected during John Oxley’s explorations.

Lewin died on 27 August 1819.

His greatest published work was, The Birds of New South Wales.

As the first free professional artist in Australia, Lewin holds a significant place in the history and development of colonial art. The Birds of New South Wales was the first published series on Australian birds and a testament to Lewin’s artistic skills and keen sense of observation. In a break from tradition, Lewin not only utilised unusual compositions to depict his subjects but for the first time we see the beginning of a true reflection in the portrayal of Australian botany.

In producing the Birds of New South Wales, Lewin encountered enormous difficulties and tribulations which culminated in a very complicated publishing history.

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