A Victorian Watercolour of the Extinct Great Auk entitled ' Great Auk . Gairfowl . Northern Penguin 274 ' No 23 .

A Victorian Watercolour of the Extinct Great Auk entitled ' Great Auk . Gairfowl . Northern Penguin 274 ' No 23 .

1800 to 1900 England

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A Victorian Watercolour of the Extinct Great Auk entitled ‘ Great Auk . Gairfowl . Northern Penguin 274 ’ No 23 .
Late 19 th Century

Size : 30 cm high , 35 cm wide – 11¾ ins high 13¾ ins wide
Applied to the watercolour : A newspaper cutting from the Yorkshire post dated April 24 1894 reads : 'The Great Auk and its egg - Mr Roland Ward of Piccadilly has purchased by private treaty a stuffed specimen of the Great Auk ( Alca Impennis ) as well as a perfect egg of this extinct bird . The price paid was 600 Guinea's' .
Not reliably seen since 1844 the Great Auk , like the ill-fated Dodo , has become one of the great icons of extinction . In the 17 th century the Dane 'Ole Worm' obtained a living bird and kept it alive for a while in his cabinet of curiosities 'The Museum Wormianum' in Copenhagen . This cabinet was confined to collections of Naturalia . A Portrait of his bird was drawn and is one of the earliest known representations of the Great Auk .
This 19 th century watercolour was most probably painted as a response to the newspaper report of 1894 ; 600 Guinea's was a vast sum by late 19 th century standards for a stuffed bird ! . The nearest similar illustration to this watercolour is a hand coloured lithograph by H . Meyer included in his 'Illustrations of British Birds 1835 - 41' . Like others Meyer continued to believe in the survival of the Great Auk long after 1844 .

Dimensions
Height 30.00 cm (11.81 inches)
Width 35.00 cm (13.78 inches)
Medium
Watercolour on paper
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