From the collection: Richard Browne watercolours
When Browne returned to Sydney at the end of his sentence he produced for sale a number of near identical watercolours of specimens that he had originally drawn for Skottowe, including the Australian lyrebird, Menura superba, and the Regent bowerbird, Sericulus chrysocephalus, reproduced here. Browne’s first depiction of the lyrebird had too many feathers – two large lyre-shaped outer feathers, two wire-like inner ones and 16 filamentary feathers instead of 12 – but this later drawing has the correct number of filamentary feathers. In his manuscript, Skottowe gave the lyrebird’s local Aboriginal name as Gongol. Browne favoured the lyrebird’s English common name, mountain pheasant.
Skottowe thought that he was the first European to procure a specimen of Sericulus chrysocephalus and bestowed the name Regent in recognition of the fact that the Prince of Wales had recently become Prince Regent. As it happened, the artist J W Lewin had in 1808 already published a drawing of this bird, which he called the golden-crowned honeysucker. Although Skottowe’s manuscript wasn’t published in his lifetime, the name Regent remained in currency, perhaps due to the number of copies Browne made and sold of this drawing in Sydney between 1819 and 1821.