Re: FW: FW: [canberrabirds] Postscript

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: Re: FW: FW: [canberrabirds] Postscript
From: Martin Butterfield <>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2016 03:47:47 +0000
I will confess I had never heard of the Kentucky Long Rifle until Geoffrey's post.  I had checked the barrel length of the US Sharps rifle, but at a maximum of 48" that would IMHO be well shy of the one shown.  However a wikipedia article (which is on the internet so must be true) reckons the Kentucky version could attain 70" and thus be well within the size of the depicted example.  

It was a muzzle loader but the wiki still gives a rate of fire of 2+ shots per minute, which would require fairly nimble fingers.  They also give the effective range of the guns as 100 yards (typical) or 200 yards with an experienced user so I think that the bird in the picture was quite safe.

On 13 May 2016 at 09:10, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

As it happens, the engraving in the published account of Sturt’s travels in the north-west corner of South Australia omitted both bird and rifleperson.  As South Australia has given us so many distinguished and energetic ornithologists I might go on and venture a guess that bird was a Black Kite. Sturt himself wrote of seeing nearby ‘several hundreds  of the common kite’ although the published account includes the Gould lithograph of what Gould had already called ‘Milvus affinis’.  Perhaps Sturt had in mind the ‘common kite’ of India with which he would have been very familiar from his days on the sub-continent.


As to Martin’s comments on the firearm, the added text does say ‘rifle’.  At the time long muzzle-loading rifles would have been in use in South Australia having been produced by the same stock of German gunsmiths who gave rise to the ‘Kentucky long rifle’ (produced in Pennsylvania, another destination, like South Australia, of German immigrants) .




From: Martin Butterfield [
Sent: Thursday, 12 May 2016 4:00 PM
To: Geoffrey Dabb
Cc: COG List
Subject: Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Postscript


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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