Birds, William Buelow Gould
  • Artist
    William Buelow Gould
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
  • Date of Production
    c. 1840s
  • Medium
    oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    70.8 x 60.2 cm
  • Credit Details
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace White, 1980, Collection: Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

William Buelow Gould


Trained by William Mulready R.A. and influenced by 17th Century Dutch painters before being transported to van Diemens Land for theft in 1827, W. B. Gould painted native flora and fauna while serving his time as an assigned servant in that colony.  After receiving his ticket of leave in 1835, Gould, who frequently lapsed into bouts of the alcoholism that had led him to crime in the first place, continued to earn a modest living from his painting.

Combining accurate draughting skills with an attractive composition that makes full use of the vibrant colour of the birds' plumage, this still life with its golden overtones is of historical as well as artistic interest.  It features many birds that were commonly found in the island colony but which were already in danger from the onslaught of European settlement.  These include the Fantail Cuckoo, the Pardalote, a Swift parrot, Bronze wing pigeon, Whistler, Bassian Thrush and Honeyeater.

Arranged so that their wings are outstretched and their bodies overlap, the birds are accompanied by a long barreled gun, possibly a flintlock, in a manner reminiscent of 17th Century Dutch still life paintings.