Curl Crested Manucode
Marian Ellis Rowan
- Marian Ellis Rowan
- Curl Crested Manucode
- watercolour and gouache on paper
- 23 cm diam.
signed lower left: Ellis Rowan
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, including the manucode. This bird is named for its curled feathers on its head and has glossy black and iridescent purple and green plumage. They are territorial, tending to live in pairs and mate for life, with both male and female birds hatching and raising the chicks. Their diet consists of fruit and insects.
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.
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.