Item 440 - Abyssinian Roller

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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Abyssinian Roller

General material designation

Parallel title

Other title information

Coracias abyssinicus

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on 2019 species identification.

Level of description


Reference code

CA RBD MSG BW002-440

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Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • undated (Creation)
    Paillou, Peter, approximately 1720-approximately 1790

Physical description area

Physical description

1 watercolour painting ; 56 x 39 cm + 1 leaf

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Name of creator

(approximately 1720-approximately 1790)

Biographical history

Peter Paillou was born in London into a Huguenot family and was recognised in his own time as an eminent ‘bird painter’. In 1744 he began to paint for Taylor White and worked for him for almost thirty years, painting chiefly birds and mammals. He painted as well for Robert More, Joseph Banks, and for the Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant. Many of his paintings of birds were used as the basis for book illustrations, often engraved by his colleague and fellow Huguenot, Peter Mazell. Paillou was elected to the Society of Artists and in 1763 he exhibited ‘A Piece of Birds, in Watercolours; the Hen of the Wood and Cock of the Red Game’. In 1778, to considerable approval, he also showed a picture of ‘A Horned Owl from Peru’, completely made from feathers.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Drawing of an Abyssinian Roller from a 18th century specimen [modern geographical distribution: Sub-Saharan Africa North of the Equator.] Attributed to Peter Paillou.

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General note

Manuscript note on back of drawing: Corvus paradisi maximus

General note

Scientific name: Coracias abyssinicus

Accompanying material

With manuscript text on accompanying leaf.

Accompanying material

Transcription of manuscript note on accompanying leaf: Aves Picae Corvus
Corvus virides dorso ferrugineo; alis basi &
apice cyaneis, rectricibus duobus lateralibus
Rostrum plumbeum. Caput & Collum Pectus & Abdomen
viridi: regio oculorum gulaque pallide
lutescentia. Dorsum ferrugineum ut et
remiges interiores comp corpori proximae
Pectus & abdomen viridi Alae medio virides,
humeris caeruleis: remigibusque pri-
mariis caeruleis. Urrhopygium [uropigium] cae-
ruleum. Cauda caerulescenti viridis,
longitudine corporis: rectricibus duobus
lateralibus (unica utrinque) duplo
longioribus extra medium nigricantibus.
habitat in Zeylon ut opinor.

Accompanying material

Translation of manuscript note on accompanying leaf: Aves Picae Corvus
Corvus virides, with a reddish-brown back,
wings that are blue at the base and tip, two very long flight feathers
on the sides of the tail,
and a lead-coloured beak. The head, neck, breast, and abdomen
are green: with pale yellow patches around the eyes and a
pale yellow throat. The back is reddish-brown as are the
inner flight feathers on the wings near the body;
the wings are green in the middle,
with blue shoulders and
primary feathers. The rump is blue.
The tail is bluish-green,
and is as long as the body: with two flight feathers on the sides
of the tail (one on either side) that are twice as long [as the
rest] and are black from the outside to the middle.
I believe it lives in Ceylon.

Alternative identifier(s)

Volume number

Birds Volume 5, Painting 13

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Physical storage

  • Volume: Birds v.5 (of 16)