BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 37

FLIGHT OF FANCY East Indies Market Stall in Batavia 2 Painted in the 17th Century by an unknown artist, East Indies Market Stall in Batavia was formerly attributed to the Dutch painter, Albert Eckhout (1610-1665), who was well known for his oils of tropical scenes. Batavia was the centre of trading for the Dutch East India Company, and the site of modern Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. A Chinese customer is buying fruit and, in the bottom right, a list of the fruits on sale is shown: rambutan, mangosteen, durian, copra, mango, grapefruit, pineapple and bananas. Overlooking it all perches a Salmon-crested Cockatoo, a pet possibly, but perhaps for sale. beautiful white parrots, both the large cockatoos and smaller corellas of Australasia and Melanesia. Many have been traded for millennia, and for some a mixture of habitat loss and trapping have led to their threat statuses being raised. Among them, Salmon-crested Cockatoo Cacatua moluccensis is listed as Vulnerable, and its presence in the painting reveals a long- standing trade. Originally widespread in eastern Indonesia, the species is now regular only in Seram, and common in Manusela National Park. In a study of early depictions of Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Stewart Metz includes this painting with works by artists like Roelandt Savery, Johann Walter, Melchior d’Hondecoeter and Willem van Royen, all of who were active at a similar time. Jan-Mar 2018 • birdlife Notably, the cockatoo appears in a painting by Jakob Bogdani (1658-1724), a Slovak who moved to Amsterdam in 1684, and then to London in 1688, going on to become a British citizen, and a popular painter of birds. As Jonathan Elphick notes in his Birds: The Art of Ornithology, Bogdani was admired in the court of Queen Mary. Elphick writes that although species were shown separately at the time, they often appeared in combinations “…that look bizarre to anyone who knows about bird distributions”. Bogdani’s pictures could include a mix of peacocks, macaws, pheasants, tits, orioles, jays, lapwings and other birds. Even with such an eccentric biogeography, these depictions give an idea of when birds appeared in Europe, and a good sense of the history of trade in these remarkable parrots. n 37