Romantic-era album

   Posted by: rring   in New acquisition, ornithology

Just acquired from a dealer in London, a partially dis-bound album put together by Ellen Harper Parkes (later Ellen Worseley, aunt of Samuel Butler), ca. 1824–1827, in which she collected artwork from many friends, obviously requested and produced especially for her.  Mary Parkes, Ellen’s cousin, was married in 1823 to William Swainson (she was his first wife, and mother of several of his children, who died before he moved to New Zealand).  Swainson (1809-1833) was the first attorney-general of New Zealand (1841-56), and a progressive (for his time) defender of the Maoris, learning to know them by long expeditions on foot through the bush.

The album includes two paintings of birds in watercolor almost identical to plates from Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations.  One of the birds is described in Swainson’s book as a unique specimen brought from Peru.  Other leaves include drawings and paintings by others in social circles intersecting with Robert Southey’s house in Greta Hall.  Seventeen of them are various art contributions on identical cards (which were obviously distributed for the purpose), including two similar images of Southey’s Greta Hall by Parkes herself, and another (pencil drawing), inscribed “Southey’s Cottage at Keswick” by “C. L.,” who may be Charles Lamb. Other contributions are possibly from the Coleridge family (S. C. for Sara, D. C. for Derwent), Letitia Elizabeth Landon (“L.E.L.”, as she often signed her published work), and perhaps Amelia Heber—wife of Bishop Heber, the great English book collector.

There are sixteen other hand painted or hand drawn items done on the pages of the album itself, including not only the Swainson birds but also watercolor Lapland skiing scenes copied from Arthur de Capelle Brooke’s 1827 account of Lapland, a black-and-white bird, and several striking butterflies.  After Ellen Parkes’ marriage to Samuel Worseley they moved to Clifton, Bristol, which is where this album came into the dealer’s possession, and so to us.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 1:16 pm and is filed under New acquisition, ornithology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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