Unknown bird

Ann Lee (1753 – 1790) was a British artist best known for her drawings of plants. The collection at RAMM also includes birds, insects and a wildebeast. She was the youngest daughter of the Hammersmith nurseryman and botanist James Lee (about 1715–1795) who was employed for a while by botanist Joseph Banks. She had access to her father’s living plant collections and his museum of pinned insects from around the world. James engaged Sydney Parkinson (about 1745-1771) to tutor his daughter in drawing at the age of 14 or 15 years old. Under his direction Ann’s work developed to produce naturalistic images which included a shadow effect that added depth of field.

It has not proved possible to match this painting to any living species. The name ‘Emberiza amazona’ is not informative. If, indeed, the bird is from ‘the Amazon’ then it may be a tanager, perhaps of the genus Stilpnia, or a seedeater, like a Sporophila. The pattern most resembles the African ploceid, Sporopipes squamifrons, but is not a particularly good fit.

Read a guest blog post by E. Geoffrey Hancock of The Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow for more information of the life and works of Ann Lee. https://rammcollections.org.uk/research-blog/

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
watercolour and gouache on paper
Common Name
unknown bird
Simple Name
Inscription Transcription
Ann Lee Jan:y 30 1770; EMBERIZA Amazone Linn:Sys:Nat:311 No 15 [Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae]
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Production Town

Production Date
Production Person Initials
Production Person Surname
Production Year Low
Production Year High

View Full Details

Emberiza Amazona (a bunting species unknown)