John LEWIN, Reed warbler. Enlarge 1 /1

John LEWIN

England 1770 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1819

  • Australia from 1800

Reed warbler. January 1805
Collection Title: Lewin, John. 'Birds of New South Wales with their natural history'. Sydney: G. Howe, 1813
Page: Plate 4
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: books, illustrated books, ink; paper etching, printed in black ink, from one copper plate; hand-coloured in watercolour Support: cream laid paper
Manufacturer's Mark: watermark centre of opposite page, 'C ANSELL/ 1809'.
Edition State: published state
Impression: undesignated impression as issued
Edition: print run unknown

Primary Insc: no inscriptions.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: no inscriptions.
Dimensions: printed image (irregular) 27.0 h x 17.4 w cm sheet 27.4 h x 21.5 w cm book (open) 27.0 h x 34.8 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1996
Accession No: NGA 96.916.4
Subject: Australia, Animal: Bird Australia, Art period: Colonial, New South Wales Australia, Book arts: Illustrated book
Provenance:
  • A.S.Whymper, signature on free endpaper. Christie's catalogue (1996) suggests that this signature is that of Annette Whymper.
  • Annette Whymper
  • Annette Whymper was one of the eleven children of the English wood engraver Josiah Wood Whymper (1813-1903). The engravings for British Birds in their Haunts, 1862 after drawings by Joseph Wolf is considered his masterpiece. Among his other publications were the wood engravings for the Life and Habits of Wild Animals, 1873-74 produced with the help of his sons Charles, Frederick and Edward. Charles H. Whymper (1853-1941) provided illustrations for books on travel, sport and natural history. They include wood engravings for Yarrells History of British Birds, 1871-89 and the birds of Egypt in 1909. Edward J. Whymper (1840-1911), alpinist, illustrator and wood engraver, who engraved the illustrations for Howard Willoughby Australian pictures drawn with pen and pencil London 1886, married Edith Mary Lewin in 1906.
  • H.Bradley Martin
  • Henry Bradley Martin (1906-1988), born in New York, studied at Christ Church College, Oxford from 1924-29. During these years he began to form his extensive library which was particularly strong in ornithology and literature. Martin had the distinction of owning two copies of this book.
  • Library of H.Bradley Martin, Sotheby's, New York 7 June 1989, lot 145, US $360,000 (A$ 525,000)
  • John Elliott
  • John Elliott born 1941, company director, acquired a number of high priced books in the late 1980s.
  • Printed Books, Autograph Letters, Documents, Pop and Sport Memorabilia, Christie's, Melbourne 26 March 1996, lot 276 (est. $3000,000-500,000) $240,000 to Horden House.
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from Horden House, Sydney, 1996.

John Lewin, a natural-history illustrator, arrived in New South Wales from England in 1801, the first professional artist to come to the new colony as a free settler. His illustrations of the exotic bird life are recognised as some of the most significant in colonial art.

Lewin’s Birds of New South Wales was the first non-government book published in the colony. He finished the plates for the book between 1803 and 1805, and a small edition was printed and published in England in 1807. The copy held by the Gallery is one of only thirteen books known to have been produced in the Sydney edition of 1813, made up of early proofs produced in 1803 and hand-coloured by the artist.

Lewin’s distinctive style of closely cropped and often asymmetrical compositions, combined with his naively unscientific yet poetic texts, has ensured the book’s place in Australian visual history. It is one of the most important and beautiful colonial publications.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

John Lewin, a natural history illustrator, arrived in New South Wales from England in 1801, the first professional artist to come to the new colony as a free settler. His illustrations of the exotic bird life are recognised as some of the most significant in colonial art.

Lewin’s Birds of New South Wales was the first non-government book published in the colony. He finished the plates for the book between 1803 and 1805, and a small edition was printed and published in England in 1807. The copy held by the Gallery is one of only 13 books known to have been produced in the Sydney edition of 1813, made up of early proofs produced in 1803 and hand-coloured by the artist.

Lewin’s distinctive style of closely cropped and often asymmetrical compositions, combined with his naively unscientific yet poetic texts, has ensured the book’s place in Australian visual history. It is one of the most important and beautiful colonial publications.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014