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Blue-cheeked Parakeet, Platycercus cyanogenys

Henry Constantine RichterCirca 1851

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria

"Blue-cheeked Parakeet or Blue-cheeked Rosella (Platycercus cyanogenys) from "Supplement to the Birds of Australia" by John Gould.

During the 19th century, John Gould (1804-81) brought to world attention the splendour of the planet's avian diversity. In an era infatuated with natural history, these gloriously modelled and coloured images satisfied the demands of passionate naturalists.

Gould was not a gifted draftsman, but he was a determined entrepreneur. He engaged a succession of superb illustrators to create 3000 sumptuous images of birds from Australasia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Gould used print-making media for their ability to create multiple original impressions and the etchings is his publications demonstrated precision and delicacy of line. Applying colour remained the most time-consuming part of these processes, with images painstakingly hand-coloured either on the plate or on the print.

For Gould, birds provided the most spectacular subjects; his images of Australian species have come to define those birds in the imagination of many bird-lovers. Gould regarded 'the numerous species of Parrots' as the 'principal feature of ornithology in Australia'. At the time this image was produced, the species was only known from a single specimen in the British Museum. Restricted to Cape York, it is a subspecies of the Pale-headed Rosella and remains the least familiar of the many varieties of rosella in Australia.

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