Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Postscript

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Postscript
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Thu, 12 May 2016 06:00:08 +0000
I am intrigued by the size of the weapon portrayed relative to the wielder thereof.  Unless the shooter is seriously vertically challenged that is about the size of the East Anglian punt-guns which could not be fired from the shoulder (unless you wanted your shoulder relocated to somewhere such as the Isle of Wight).


On 12 May 2016 at 15:37, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

[I have replied to John separately]  Re the Sturt sketch, Jean was certainly close to the intended message with her impressions.  While the bird is central in the scene as shown, I had removed Sturt’s human figure which transforms the picture when re-inserted.  Note the comment of the critic  –




From: John Walter [
Sent: Thursday, 12 May 2016 3:23 PM
To: 'Geoffrey Dabb';
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Postscript



I was interested to see your post re a bird in Von Guerard’s painting of Mt William. Some years ago I was given a book by my friend Stephen Temple Watts. Called “Views of Victoria in the steps of Von Guerard “ This book contains 51 of Von Guerard’s paintings which are mirrored by paintings by Dacre Smyth. Only 2 of the paintings in the book made use of a bird; the Mt William one and another entitled “Pulpit Rock Cape Schanck”.


Dacre Smyth was a naval officer, painter and poet. He was also an alumni of yours, and at one time Aide-de-Camp to the Queen and also GG Sir William McKell. He was related through his father to Lord Baden Powell founder of the scouting movement and through Baden-Powell distantly to Betty Temple Watts and her son Stephen. I found the connections fascinating.


John Walter


From: Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Thursday, 12 May 2016 9:19 AM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Postscript


In last night’s talk I touched on the significant, but largely unexplored, subject ‘the use of the incidental bird in landscape painting’.  The point is that a small and distant bird figure can draw the eye and create quite a different effect for the viewer from a view with the bird omitted.  The painter must exercise care to avoid the bird becoming so clear and prominent that it dominates the landscape. Below is an example, a fairly subtle one,  of use of the incidental bird.  Does the bird bear any relation to the incidental marsupials below?


(I shall offer one more example, a more blatant one)



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