Artefact of the month - July
|Dodo in a Landscape with birds and animals by Roelandt Savery, circa 1629|
This fascinating painting hangs in the Reading Room of ZSL Library, it depicts a fanciful landscape populated by a mixture of birds and mammals, but interestingly in the bottom left hand corner is a dodo, painted from life.
It is thought Savery actually saw the dodo alive, the bird having been brought from its native habitat Mauritius to Prince Maurice of Nassau's menagerie before it became extinct in the 1690s.
This is one of the few authentic pictures of the bird in life and very unusually Savery has painted a rear view of the bird in this painting.
Several of Savery's other paintings also include the dodo in more conventional positions from which most later paintings of the dodo are derived. Only a few paintings of the dodo from life are known to exist. A key to the identification of the 21 other birds in the painting, prepared by Peter Olney, is available in the ZSL Library.
The ZSL painting is thought to date from c1629 and exemplifies the range of exotic birds in captivity in Europe in the early-17th century, as at least 18 different species have been identified.
Conserved and re-framed in a perspex case in 2005. The work was funded by John Edwards in memory of his mother, Ailsa Edwards.
Cataloguing of ZSL artworks
The Michael Marks Trust has provided funding for the cataloguing of the artworks in ZSL’s collections. An online catalogue to the artworks can be searched via the Online archives catalogue , use the `Switch database’ option to `ART’ to access the emerging art catalogue.