Palm Cockatoo

Marian Ellis Rowan

Palm Cockatoo by Marian Ellis Rowan


Marian Ellis Rowan
Palm Cockatoo
watercolour and gouache on paper
23 cm diam.

signed lower left: Ellis Rowan

See National Library of Australia object 138740965 Red and black cockatoo (Dasyptilus pesqueti), Papua New Guinea, 1917

This appears to be the watercolour on which the round design has been based.

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Further Information

Marian Ellis Rowan (1848 - 1922) was a remarkable woman, who blurred the lines between fine art and natural history illustration with artworks characterised not only by their detailed accuracy but also her own compositional charm and touches of dramatic interest, such as the inclusion of insects, adding more life, narrative interest and sense of scale. This celebrated and prolific artist with her reputation for painting wildflowers also created a series of images representing birds of Papua New Guinea, undertaken on trips there in 1916 and 1917. She preferred to paint the birds from life, travelling through the jungle aged in her sixties, she attempted to illustrate every bird of paradise, which at the time numbered over 50 species. The round shape of this artwork is likely as a result of her commission from the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company in England, following her foray into painted china for the Flavelle Brothers in Sydney.

Although this work has been titled as Palm Cockatoo, it does not show the identifying red cheeks of this particular type of bird. Rather, Ellis Rowan has depicted Pesquet’s Parrot, a unique bird found in New Guinea with the body of a cockatoo but head more like a vulture, it is also know as the vulturine or Dracula parrot. It is a large, heavy-set bird which feasts on fruit.

Ellis Rowan is represented in many public collections including significant holdings at the National Library of Australia and the Queensland Museum; as well as the National Gallery of Australia; the National Gallery of Victoria; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Adelaide; the National Herbarium, Melbourne; the National Trust of Australia; the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.


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