From our team here at NGV, we’d like to express our very best wishes to our community at this time.

Due to the evolving nature of COVID-19 and after following closely the State and Federal Government’s advice, we have extended the NGV’s temporary closure until 30 June.

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The Sydney Bird Painter Boobook owl (c. 1790-1800)

Boobook owl (c. 1790-1800)

This watercolour is the earliest Australian work in the NGV Collection. The boobook owl was drawn by an unidentified artist, possibly a member of the First Fleet, whose hand has also been identified in watercolours held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, depicting birds. At least three artists, now collectively referred to as the ‘Sydney Bird Painter’, worked on these drawings. Despite the artist’s attention to detail, the depiction of the owl reveals several inaccuracies – for example, the shape of the beak – which suggests the drawing was made from a stuffed specimen rather than from life.