VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Large Green-Pigeon
1995-03232
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

William Farquhar arrived in Melaka in 1795 and was promoted to Resident in 1803, a post he occupied until 1818. He compiled this collection of natural history drawings while he was in Melaka. He commissioned local Chinese artists to draw the flora and fauna of Melaka. The collection of 477 paintings of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, crustacean, and insects form an impressive documentation of the natural life of the region. The paintings reveal a combination of the aesthetic framework in which the Chinese painters were trained and the scientific and naturalistic style which the client demanded. Thus, instead of optical perspective, the axonometric influence of Chinese paintings is apparent in the drawings. The paintings of birds rate amongst the well-executed in the collection. This painting depicts a green pigeon perched on a lime berry branch. The painting is executed to fine detail as can be perceived in the feathers of the pigeon and the texture of the branch.

History of the Object
The natural history drawings were commissioned by William Farquhar who spent 23 years in Melaka from 1795. While in Melaka, he sent men to collect plant and animal specimens which he commissioned artists to paint. He took the collection of drawings with him when he left Singapore (where he served as Resident and Commandant from 1819) in 1823 and deposited it with the Royal Asiatic Society. The collection was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1995. The collection was purchased in its entirety by Mr G.K Goh and donated to the museum in 1995.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Watercolour on paper 
Measurements
Width 22.5 cm. Length 37 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Malaysia; Melaka 
Geography
Malaysia 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
18th Century - 19th Century; 1795-1818 
Function
Natural History Drawing 
Acquisition
This is one painting in a collection purchased from an auction house by Mr G.K Goh and donated to the museum in 1995. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
National Museum of Singapore 
Museum
National Museum of Singapore 
Credit line
Donated by Mr G.K Goh 

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