This watercolour by Edward Lear is one of thirty commissioned by Sir William Jardine (1800-1874) to illustrate The Natural History of Parrots, one of the volumes in The Jardine Naturalist's Library series that Sir William edited. He noted that Lear had provided 'some remarkably beautiful parrots', which is hardly surprising given that Lear had in 1832 produced his magnificent folio on Parrots entitled Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, a record of the collection of parrots at the Zoological Society of London that instantly established his reputation as a gifted orhithological artist. Jardine's Library was largely published by William Home Lizars (1788-1859), Jardine's brother-in-law, however the present watercolour is offered with a volume that includes an engraved title for Henry Bohn (1797-1884), a London publisher who bought the rights from Lizars.
The present watercolour is reproduced as pl. 25 in the volume on parrots which is also included in this lot. It is interesting to compare the watercolour with the finished plate. The background details in the engraving was added by another artist, probably James Hope Stewart (1789-1856), who worked for Jardine. The variation in colour is possibly explained by the fact that Lear would only have provided notes to guide the colourist.
Christine E. Jackson aptly notes that 'Lear's parrots are among the best illustrations...' (C.E. Jackson, Dictionary of Bird Artists, London, 1999, p. 331).