Author(s): Louise Anemaat
Parrots and lorikeets swoop down, vivid, bright and colourful. Black swans glide through the air. Owls stare out from pages, wide-eyed.
A sense of awe swept through natural history circles in eighteenth-century London when the first ships returned from Sydney with their cargo of exotic animals, birds and plants - and striking watercolour illustrations.
The sudden emergence, in 2011, of a large number of these watercolour illustrations has revealed much about the early years of the colony. In Natural Curiosity, Louise Anemaat uncovers never-before-published works from the artists of the First Fleet, including convicts-turned-watercolourists Thomas Watling and John Doody, and the anonymous 'Port Jackson Painter'. She unravels the complex network of natural history collectors who spanned the globe - eagerly acquiring, copying and exchanging these artworks - from New South Wales Surgeon-General John White to passionate British collector Aylmer Bourke Lambert.
Louise Anemaat is head of pictures section at the State Library of New South Wales where she has curated many exhibitions and lectured extensively on the library's 18th-century collections.