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411977
  • Title
    Collection 25: Drawings / Album of watercolour drawings of Australian natural history, owned by Robert Anderson Seton, ca.1800
  • Call number
    SAFE/PXA 914
  • Level of description
    Collection
  • Date

    ca. 1800
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
    411977
  • Issue Copy
    Digitised
  • Physical Description
    Drawings - 29.3 x 25 x 2.2 cm - 1 album of 151 pages, bound in contemporary half calf over marbled boards, and with the spine with raised bands. Titled on spine. Album contains 89 drawings on 63 pages.
  • ADMINISTRATIVE/ BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY

    Robert Anderson was the son of Doctor James Anderson and Margaret Seton, of Mounie. The Setons were a prominent Scottish family, and Anderson's brother later added Seton to the Anderson name, in honour of his mother's family.
    Robert was in NSW in 1800, where Governor Hunter appointed him an ensign in the NSW Corps. He left the colony in 1805, for India. Some correspondence by Robert Anderson, written during his time in NSW and which refers in part to his interest in natural history, is held by the University of Aberdeen Library, Seton Family Papers 2787 (see Australian Joint Copying Project microfilm M 2398).
  • Scope and Content
    The drawings are titled from "Index Birds", which is on pages 1 & 2 of the volume. Page numbers are those assigned by the Library: the plate numbers assigned by the compiler of the album are given in square brackets. The modern names for the birds and fishes have been taken from "The Hunter Sketchbook", NLA, 1989.

    page1: Index birds
    page 9: [1] Gorail 1/3 of the natural size : (King Parrot, plate 35 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 11: [2] War-nain nat:size : (Golden whistler, plate 15 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 13: [3] Gorail nat. size : (Musk lorikeet, plate 55 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 15 [4] [unfinished pencil sketch] : (Eastern rosella, plate 25 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 17 [5] Po-buck nat size: (Owlet-nightjar, plate 19 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 19 [6] Gomak (murry) 1/3 nat size : (King Parrot, plate 33 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 21 [7] Loriquet of the Philippine isles natural size : (Loriquet of the Phillipine Islands, plate 77 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 23 [8] Deremah. natural size : (Sacred kingfisher, plate 1 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 25 [9] Duralia (moojil). 5 feet high : (Brolga, plate 5 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 27 [10] Collinat 1/5 nat. size : (Rufous night heron, plate 9 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 29 [11] Goo-genne-gan, 1/5 nat. size : (Laughing Kookaburra, plate 7 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 31 [12] Co-raff 1/6 nat. size. (black coccatoa) : (Glossy black-cockatoo, plate 41 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 33 [13] [untitled - Channel-billed cuckoo] : (Channel-billed cuckoo, plate 49 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 35 [14] Garaway. 1/6 nat size. (white cocatoa) -- 2 paper slips of mss notes in a later hand about identity of bird and quality of drawing "This drawing seems to be too bright and the upper mandible out of all proportion." : (Sulphur-crested cockatoo, plate 37 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 37 [15] 1. Robin, Norfolk Island. 2. No name. 2/3 nat. size : (Scarlet robin & Buff-banded rail, plate 79 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 39 [16] Pigeon, Norfolk Island. 1/5 nat. size. : (Norfolk Island ground dove, plate 89 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 41 [17] Co-gurack. 1/3 nat. size : (Blue-faced honeyeater, plate 39 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 43 [18] Pigeon, Norfolk Island. 1/5 nat. size : (New Zealand pigeon, plate 77 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 45 [19] Hawk. nat. size : (Collared sparrowhawk, plate 59 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 47 [20] Wirgan, 1/3 nat size : (Noisy friarbird, plate 21 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 49 [21] [Mistletoebird & Red-browed finch] : (Mistletoebird & Red-browed finch, plate 53 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 51 [22] Two Gorails, nat. size. : (Little lorikeet & Turquoise parrot, plate 47 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 53 [23] Bird of providence, or mount Pitt Bird, Norfolk island n.s. : (Providence petrel, plate 87 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 55 [24] Ground bird, Lord Howes island, 1.3 nat. size. : (Lord Howe Island woodhen, plate 94 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 57 [25] Pigeon, Lord Howe's island, 1/6 nat. size. : (White-throated pigeon, plate 95 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 59 [26] Gorail, 1/3 nat. size. -- on a slip of paper in a different hand are futher notes about the bird "..this seems to be either a very remarkable variety or not accurately drawn" : (Crimson rosella, plate 45 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 61 [27] Wang-u-wang. nat size. -- on a slip of paper are futher notes about the bird "This is certainly the Red Shouldered Par. as I cannot refer the description to anyother bird. The colours are by no means accurately expressed." : (Swift parrot, plate 43 (reversed) in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 63 [28] [untitled] : (Chrested shrike-tit, plate in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 65 [29] Parrot of Norfolk Island. nat. siz. : (Norfolk Island kaka, plate 29 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 67 [30] Stork : (Black-necked stork, plate 57 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 69 [31] Gode-gang nat. size : (Common bronzewing, plate 31 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 71 [32] Norfolk Island, 1/3 nat. size. : (Grey-headed blackbird, plate 90 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 73 [33] Ground bird, Norfolk Island 1/3 nat size -- on a slip of paper are futher notes about the bird "This is the White Gallinule of Philip's Bot. Bay, the feet are not accurately drawn" : (White swamphen, plate 93 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 75 [34] Gode-gang. nat. size : (Brush bronzewing, plate 3
    in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 77 [35] Ground bird norfolk island 1/3 nat size : (Buff-banded rail, plate 79 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 79 [36] [untitled] : (Masked lapwing, plate 11 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 81 [37] Tropic bird nat size -- on a slip of paper in a different hand are futher notes about the bird " This drawing does not appear to have been correctly made " : (Red-tailed tropic bird, plate 81 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 83 [38] Norfolk Island nat size : (Black noddy, plate 83 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 85 [39] [untitled] : (Dollarbird, plate 13 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 87 [40] Gorail, nat size : (Rainbow lorikeet, plate 51 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 89 [41] Norfolk Island nat. size : (Sooty tern, plate 85 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 91 [42] Gorail nat. size -- on a slip of paper in a different hand are futher notes about the bird "This is certainly the P. Terrestus of Shaw from the red [?] and black barred tail but is placed in such a bad position as to make the Bird with difficulty be distinguished." In another hand is written on the drawing "I think this note is by Dr J. Anderson Seton" : (Ground parrot, plate 23 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 93 [43] Mooro-duin [two drawings; one incomplete] : (Variegated fairy-wren & one unidentified wren, drawing incomplete, plate 27 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW)
    page 95 [unfinished pencil and wash drawing of ostrich?]
    page 97 [untitled - Broom bossiaea] plate 40 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 99 [untitled - Sweet pittosporum; button everlasting daisy; pinnate boronia] compiled from plates 3,4 & 50 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 101 [untitled and unfinished drawing - New Zealand flax] plate 91 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 103 [untitled - Leafy purple flag] plate 20 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 105 [untitled - Hottentot fig] plate 8 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 107 [untitled - Twisted parrot pea; Five red corners; Pyramid flower] compiled from plates 14, 24 & 46 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 109 [untitled - Unidentified flower; Pink bells] compiled from plates 30 & 10 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 111 [untitled - Milkmaids; Forest grass tree (Xanthorrhoea)] compiled from plates 54 & 17 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 113 [untitled - Golden donkey orchid; Grassland Daisy; Brookweed] compiled from plates 52, 28 & 76 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 115 [untitled - Slender violet; Willow-leaf crowea; Dotted sun orchid] compiled from plates 48, 44 & 42 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 117 [untitled - Showy boronia; Pink five corners] compiled from plates 22 & 18 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 119 [untitled - Wedding bush; Box wax leaf; ] compiled from plates 12 & 4 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 121 [untitled - Handsome wedge pea; Red spider flower; Eyebright] compiled from plates 32, 16 & 2 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 123 [untitled - Variable bossiaea, long-leaf five corners, Small crowea] compiled from plates 38, 36 & 34 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 125 [untitled - Native fuchsia; Purple waxlip orchid; Kangaroo apple] compiled from plates 56 & 75 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 127 [untitled - Yellow-eyed grass; Rock lily] compiled from plates 58 & 63 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 137 [untitled - Yellow-green wrasse; Old wife; four-lined trumpter perch] compiled from plates 67 & 70 in Hunter's Birds & Flowers of NSW
    page 139 [untitled - three fish]
    page 141 [untitled - fish]
  • Source
    Purchased from the Willcox Collection of Important Australian Natural History Paintings and Books, Sotheby's Melbourne, 28 November 2000, lot 9
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright: Artist died before 1955.
    Please acknowledge: : Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • General note

    The album is comprised of copies of sketches from Governor John Hunter's sketchbook, 'Birds & Flowers of New South Wales drawn on the spot in 1788, 89 & 90', which is now in the National Library (this album can be seen on the Library's website at www.nla.gov.au/catalogue/pictures and in published form in 'The Hunter Sketchbook', NLA, 1989).
    An inscription on page 2 notes that these are copies from 'original drawings by Captain Hunter, late of the Syrius..' It is not clear when the copies were made. The inscription suggests that it was made before Hunter became Governor of NSW in 1795. The album was probably made between 1792 and 1800, when both Hunter and Robert Anderson were in NSW.
    It is not known who the artist of the drawings is, but it is likely that Anderson either acquired it, or copied the album himself, while he was in Sydney in 1800. Anderson's letters reveal an interest in natural history. Although Governor Hunter created his album between 1788-1792, he could have had it with him in Sydney in 1800, as four John Lewin drawings were bound into it, and Lewin only arrived in NSW in January of that year. It is likely that it passed from Robert Anderson to the Mounie Library, whose bookplate is pasted onto the front endboard. The book plate of Peter Willcox, the last owner of the album, is also on the front endboard.
    Some of the drawing titles are common to both albums. For instance both plate 33 of the Hunter album, and plate 6 of the Seton album are titled "Gomak (Murry)."
    The images in the Seton album are very close copies of those in the Hunter album, nearly the same in size, colouring and technique. However the Seton drawings are often missing the decorative detail provided by Hunter. The last four drawings of fish, on pages 141 and 143, are not in Hunter's album.
    The album appears to be commercially made and dates from the late eighteenth-century.
    At some point, probably in England or Scotland, some one has assessed the album (a note on page 91 suggests it was Robert Anderson's father, Dr. James Anderson Seton) and written comments about the accuracy of the drawings and the identity of the birds on slips of paper which have been inserted next to the relevant drawing. Another contemporary hand has also written in pencil on a number of drawings references to published descriptions of the birds .
    Digital order no:Album ID : 823225
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