State Library of South AustraliaState Library of South Australia

Splendid fairy wren

Catalogue record

Creator: Richter, Henry Constantine, artist

Date of creation : ca. 1867

Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for personal research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.

Format : Artwork, 855 x 675 x 20mm

Donated by Friends of the State Library

The pencil and watercolour sketch of Malurus callainus (Splendid Fairy Wren) is by Henry Constantine Richter. Richter was employed by the distinguished British ornithologist John Gould.

Gould usually drew rough sketches of birds from skins collected. These sketches were then redrawn for publication by other artists, including his wife Elizabeth, and Henry Ritcher.

This image was published in the Gould's 1869 Supplement to The birds of Australia. When published, the image appeared in reverse to the sketch after being redrawn onto the lithographic stone, printed and hand-coloured.

During his career, Richter produced more than 1,500 hand-coloured lithographs. The majority of his work was undertaken for John Gould's natural history volumes.

Sometimes known as the Blue Wren, Gould names the bird as the Turquoisine Superb Warbler.


Further reading

  • Gould, John. The Birds of Australia. London: Published by the author, 1848 (London: Printed by Richard and John E. Taylor)
  • Andre, Roger. 'Friends-funded artworks', Bibliofile vol. 10, no. 4, August 2002
  • 'Gould commemorative issue', Emu, October 1938.
  • Hankel, Valmai. 'Our very special wrens', Friends of the State Library Newsletter no.1, August 1996


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