Item 647 - Shaft-tailed Widow-bird

Open original Digital object

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Shaft-tailed Widow-bird

General material designation

Parallel title

Shaft-tailed Whydah, male and female

Other title information

Vidua regia

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Caption title.
  • Parallel titles and other title information: Title from Mousley: Vidua Regina

Level of description


Reference code

CA RBD MSG BW002-647

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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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Archival description area

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 a pair of male and female Shaft-tailed Whydahs from 18th century specimens [modern geographical distribution: Southern Africa.] Attributed to Peter Paillou (1704-1798).

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General note

Manuscript note on front of drawing: Shaft-tailed Widow-bird (Vidua Regina)

General note

Accompanying material

With manuscript text on accompanying leaf.

Accompanying material

Transcription of manuscript note on accompanying leaf: Aves Passeres Emberiza
23 Regia
Rectricibus intermediis quatuor longissimis
aequalibus apice tantum pennatis, rostro
Vidua viparia africana
Habitat in Africa
Corpus, magnitudine Linariae, nigrum, subtus
rufescens. Collum rufescens. Rectrices interme-
diae 4 rectae toto corpore duplo longiores, tantum
apice lanceolato pinnatae. Pedes rubri.

Accompanying material

Translation of manuscript note on accompanying leaf: Aves Passeres Emberiza
23 Regia
with four very long equal central tail feathers
with enlarged feathered tips, and a red
Vidua viparia africana
It lives in Africa.
The body, which is the size of the Linariae, is black, and
reddish underneath. The neck is reddish. There are
four straight central tail feathers that are twice as long as the whole body, with enlarged feathered pointed tips. The feet are red.

Alternative identifier(s)

Volume number

Birds Volume 10, Painting 36

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Physical storage

  • Volume: Birds v.10 (of 16)