These embossed painted bird pictures were made by the Dublin artist, Samuel Dixon (d. 1769) in 1750. Still in their original frames, they formed part of his Foreign Bird Set, derived from the first four volumes of George Edwards' Natural History of Uncommon Birds, published between 1743 and 1751. The Foreign Bird set was produced in sets of twelve, each with an identifying label on the reverse. Each label had a distinctive border composed of symbols to avoid forgery. Number I from the series, no longer with the present set, included on its label the dedication 'To the Right Hon. CHAWORTH BRABAZON, Earl of Meath, these twelve pieces of Foreign Birds, done in Basso Relievo, and painted in their natural Colours, are dedicated by his Lordships most humble and most obedient servant SAMUEL DIXON'. Number I was a 'Painted Pheasant from China', and numbers VII and XII were 'The Black and White Chinese Cock Pheasant and its hen' and 'The Quan or Guan'.
In 1755, Dixon produced his 'Foreign and Domestick Birds' - or large bird - set, which carried a dedication on the back of each picture to twelve influential patronesses, and again borrowed heavily from Edwards' Natural History.
Eleven bird pictures from Dixon's Foreign Bird Set and one by Isaac Spackman, were sold anonymously, in these Rooms, 19 November 1992, lot 6 (£49,500 inc. premium) another eleven pictures, also from the Foreign Bird Set, were sold by the Executors of the late Cicely, Marchioness of Zetland, in these Rooms, 10 May 1973, lots 8-18.
We are grateful to Robert Beardsley, Esq. for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.