Artefact of the month – July from the Zoological Society of London:
Savery’s Dodo in a Landscape with birds and animals by Roelandt Savery, circa 1629
It is thought Savery actually saw the dodo alive, the bird having been brought from its native habitat Mauritius to Prince Maurice of Nassau’s menagerie before it became extinct in the 1690s.
This is one of the few authentic pictures of the bird in life and very unusually Savery has painted a rear view of the bird in this painting.
Several of Savery’s other paintings also include the dodo in more conventional positions from which most later paintings of the dodo are derived. Only a few paintings of the dodo from life are known to exist. A key to the identification of the 21 other birds in the painting, prepared by Peter Olney, is available in the ZSL Library.
The ZSL painting is thought to date from c1629 and exemplifies the range of exotic birds in captivity in Europe in the early-17th century, as at least 18 different species have been identified.