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Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

2.24.2014

Putting Birds on It

[Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) on a custard apple branch (Annona reticulata) (LI901.6), Lent by the Radcliffe Science Library, University of Oxford, to the Ashmolean.]

I didn't have any design-related images of celery or kale to share (although there is a leafy green apple branch, above), but in honor of Portlandia's upcoming fourth season, this post has birds on it.

[Via the MIA]

Long before there was a Portland, Oregon, Lady Impey (Mary) and her husband, Chief Justice Sir Elijah Impey, put lots of birds around. In fact, as part of the early group of English transplants in Calcutta during the 18th century, the couple hired three Indian artists to paint their menagerie of birds, plants, and animals. Lady Mary's art collection grew to include 200 drawings of birds and is highly prized today. (Some of you may remember the Ashmolean's recent show, Lady Impey’s Bird Paintings.)

Right now eleven “Lady Impey” paintings can be seen in the States at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), as part of the exhibition Imperial Nature: Flora, Fauna, and Colonialism in India. This newly opened show delves into the British-Indian cultural mash-up of the colonial era, touching on global trade, natural science and arts patronage. It continues through April 20, 2014. (Thanks to Enfilade for the alert!)

[There may or may not be a bird in this 18th-century garden scene from the MIA's show, but I couldn't pass by the fantastic bordered floor cloth and that densely patterned canopy. Click for larger view.]

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