Shaikh Zayn-al-Din was trained in the Mughal tradition of the Persian court painters, a style which was very appealing to English patrons and suitably adaptable to the European tradition of bird painting. The Impeys were the first European patrons of natural history painting in India and are still considered among the most important. These exceptionally rare watercolours come from a group that totalled 326 and were brought back to England by the Impeys in 1783. The collection was sold at Phillips, London, 21 May 1810. Examples from the Impey series can now be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Radcliffe Science Library in Oxford, the Binney Collection in San Diego and the Wellcome Institute, London. A group of watercolours from the collection of the late 18th Earl of Derby were sold in these Rooms, 17 June 1998, lots 170-173.
The bulbul is native to Southern Asia, India, South east China, South east Asia and the Andaman Islands. Introduced to Australia, Mauritius, Nicobar, Hawaiian Islands and Florida.
We are grateful to Peter Olney for his help in identifying the birds.