Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Ferdinand Bauer

On the weekend we took the kids and Amanda's mother to see an exhibition of paintings by Ellis Rowan at the National Library here in Canberra. Ellis Rowan had an international reputation as a painter of beautiful, scientifically accurate images of flowers (often accompanied by birds or insects). The exhibition was OK, but somehow didn't quite impress me as much as I was expecting.

But, outside the exit of the exhibition was another small display consisting of other botanical items from the NLA's collections. There were a couple of items from the Library's own Banks' Florilegium, and quite a few by Ferdinand Bauer. The last time we were at the Library, Amanda had to drag me from the bookshop before I bought a Bauer print (I got a pair of John Gould's parrots, circa 1840 instead). This time the shop had a wider range of botanical prints to select from - they were printed from the original engravings by Nokomis Press. Alecto Historical Editions' in the UK have done a wider range including Birds, Fish, Amphi bians and the odd Marsupial. Financial prudence prevailed again but not before finding the Catalogue from An Exquisite Eye, an exhibition of Bauer's work staged in Sydney in 1998. If I can't have one of these prints, then a book full of them is somehow a reasonable consolation.

I have a soft spot for Bauer's work - it is an enticing blend of scientific accuracy and artistic expression. By pre-dating all other specimens a number of his paintings have become the type material (or definitive specimen) for a species. Acanthaluteres Brownii is such a species.

Ferdinand Bauer accompanied Matthew Flinders on his circumnavigation of Australia from 1801-1803 and drew the plants and animals they encountered.

One day I'll get one. It would be cheaper than a PowerBook.

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