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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
  • 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.
  • 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 together with 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’), 81 watercolours
    Volume 02
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), 95 watercolours
    Volume 03
    New South Wales drawings (‘The Lambert Drawings’), 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’ (the others sheets not watermarked, but probably most from the same stock). The watermarks on the Watling drawings (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., 32 watercolours of fish and 112 watercolours of birds

    SERIES 03 (Volumes 05-06)
    Drawings of plants of New South Wales, botanical watercolours in two albums
    Volume 05
    Drawings of plants of New South Wales, approximately 259 botanical watercolours
    Volume 06
    Drawings of plants from New South Wales, 113 botanical watercolours

    These 372 botanical drawings add significantly to the smaller groups of 59 botanical drawings in the Watling Collection and 15 botanical drawings in the Banks Ms34 collections in the Natural History Museum, London.

    Volume 05: ‘DRAWINGS OF PLANTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES’ includes just one sheet signed (twice, with initials) by Thomas Watling. The majority of the watercolours in the album by one or two hands, the six watercolours inscribed with Paterson’s name on the versos are on a heavier wove paper without watermark and are by another hand. The inscriptions on the verso of most of the sheets possibly in White or Watling’s hand. One inscription, on the reverse of 140 is 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’, the watermarks, most of which are earlier than the one dated watermark which features in the album (J WHATMAN 1794) suggest these drawings may pre-date the drawings in Volume 05 (Drawings of Plants of New South Wales). Britannia, the horn (bugle) and J WHATMAN are all watermarks found on sheets in the Watling and Banks Ms34 Collections in the Natural History Museum, London.
    The inscription on one page “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.

    ‘In 1775 Lee and Kennedy of the Vineyard Nursery, Hammersmith - then a village outside London - offered for sale the first Australian plants, Casuarina quadrivalvis (Allocasuarina strlcta). In 1785, they offered: Banksia oblongifolia, B.serrata, Fabrica laevigata (Leptospermum laevigatum) Lambertia formosa, Melaleuca armillaris with an addition in 1789 of Metrosideros hispida (Angophora hispida) ,.. James Lee was especially interested in Australian plants and, at his own expense, sent out David Burton to collect seed and plants for the firm. In about 1787 Lee published a 4 page pamphlet entitled ‘Rules for Collection and Preserving Seed from Botany Bay’. ... Perhaps Lee’s pamphlet was intended for settlers, military, warders and their families, as well as convicts who would become free men when their sentences expired. Seed collected by these early settlers from the Port Jackson area included Acacia linifolia, A.juniperina, A.myrtifolia, A.verticillata, Eucalyptus resinifera, E.robusta, Goodia lotifolia, Isopogon anemonifolius, Platylobium parvislorurum, P.formosus and Pultenaea retusa.’ (B. Halliwell, ‘Some Australian plants in cultivation in England by 1800’, Eucryphia, newsletter of the Australian Plants Society, Tasmania, September 2002)
  • Source
    Purchased with the generous support of TAL and Dai-ichi Life and the State Government of New South Wales in June 2011
  • 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 until 2011.
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright: Artist died before 1955
    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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