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  • Title
    TAL & Dai-ichi Life Derby collection of natural history watercolours, 1790s / compiled by Aylmer Bourke Lambert ; acquired by the 13th Earl of Derby
  • Creator
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    745 drawings - watercolour

    Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761-1842) was Vice President of the Linnaean Society of London for nearly 50 years. He was a friend and correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks, and took a great interest in the botanical and zoological discoveries emerging from New Holland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as they were transmitted back to London, whether as living or dead specimens, as seeds, or as drawings. Lambert compiled the collection from Surgeon General John White's specimens and drawings brought from Sydney to London in 1795.

    Edward Smith Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby, KG (1775-1851), was a legendary collector and botanist, President of the Linnaean Society and of the Zoological Society of London. By the time of his death in 1851, his menagerie and aviary on 100 acres of land and 70 acres of water at Knowsley, just a few miles east of Liverpool, included over 100 species of mammals and 300 species of birds, the zoological museum in the house contained over 20,000 specimens of mammals, birds, eggs and lower vertebrates, and the library an unparalleled collection of natural history drawings and books. Earl of Derby acquired the drawings from Lambert's estate sale in 1842.
  • Collection history
    These six albums were purchased from the Lambert sale by Lord Derby, specifically from Lambert’s ‘Valuable Botanical Library’ sold over 3 days, 18-20 April 1842. The albums remained in the Derby library at Knowsley Hall until 2011.
  • Scope and Content
    Six albums comprising 745 watercolours (one landscape, 10 of quadrupeds, 326 of birds, 32 of fish and 376 of plants), including works by and after Thomas Watling, the Port Jackson Painter, The Sydney Bird Painter, and others, the majority dating to the first decade following settlement.

    SERIES 01 (Volumes 01-03)
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), 225 watercolours in three volumes.
    Volume 1 includes John Latham's autograph letter signed to Aylmer Bourke Lambert, [Romsey] 26 January 1800, concerning the return and contents of the albums, 3 pages, with address leaf.
    Volume 01
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), ca 1797
    81 watercolours
    Volume 02
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), ca 1797
    95 watercolours
    Volume 03
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), ca 1797
    49 watercolours

    Folio (430 x 280mm.), contemporary calf gilt, rebacked by Hodgson, Liverpool, the calf spine gilt in compartments with red and dark green morocco lettering pieces titled ‘NEW SOUTH WALES DRAWINGS’, the 13th Earl of Derby’s bookplate on front pastedown.

    114 of the 225 watercolours in these three albums are on paper watermarked 1794 / J WHATMAN’ ; remaining sheets are not watermarked, but probably most from the same stock.
    The watermarks on drawings from the Watling Collection (Natural History Museum, London) appear to be earlier (these include J Whatman; Britannia; Horn (bugle); C Taylor; L Munn; Fleur de lys). The inscriptions on the reverse of several of the plates in volume 1, titling the subjects, are in a contemporary hand, and the titles are similar to, but not identical with, the titles on some of the Watling drawings.
    200 of the 225 subjects that comprise the ‘Lambert Drawings’ relate to works in the Watling Collection, and of the 25 that are not in Watling, mostly birds, at least four (volume 1, pls 12, 21 and 32, and volume 2, pl. 2) are subjects which relate to listed but now lost Watling drawings.

    SERIES 02 (Volume 04)
    Zoology of N. [New] Holland etc., 1790s.
    32 watercolours of fish and 112 watercolours of birds

    SERIES 03 (Volumes 05-06)
    Drawings of plants of New South Wales, 1790s. Botanical watercolours in two albums.

    Volume 05
    `Drawings of Plants of New South Wales', 1790s.
    Approximately 259 botanical watercolours; includes two estrays from the Watling Collection, Natural History Museum, London; six drawings inscribed with William Paterson's name on verso; other inscriptiosn possibly in the hand of John White or Thomas Watling.
    no. 140 dated: ‘October 1794 leaf and flower 2/3 the Natural Size. very common about runs of water & moist swampy grounds. Flowers in Sept. & Octr.’) and is on paper watetmarked ‘1794 / J WHATMAN’.

    Volume 06
    Drawings of plants from New South Wales, 1790s
    113 botanical watercolours
    f.1 inscribed: “Hort: Lee. Hammersmith. / 1798.” refers to James Lee’s famous horticultural nursery which pioneered the introduction of plants from New Holland. The Mountain Devil (Lambertia formosa, named for Aylmer Bourke Lambert) of New South Wales was among the first Australian plants to be brought into cultivation in Europe.

  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright:
    Please acknowledge:: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • Description source

    New South Wales drawings : the property of the Earl of Derby : important early Australian watercolours from the library of the 13th Earl of Derby at Knowsley [catalogue] / Christie's. [London : Christie's, 2011]

    Correction: Christie's catalogue records John Latham's autograph letter signed to Aylmer Bourke Lambert, [Romsey] 26 January 1800 is tipped into Volume 3. The letter is tipped into Volume 1.
  • Variant title

    The Derby Collection, 1790s
    The Lambert Collection, 1790s
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