Cockatoos, Toucan, Macaw and a Parrot

Cockatoos, Toucan, Macaw and Parrot, 1889
Henry Stacy Marks (1856 – 1929)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 01477
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Cockatoos, Toucan, Macaw and a Parrot

Henry Stacy Marks, born and raised in London, had been fond of birds since his childhood, but did not use them as subjects for his paintings until the middle of his very varied career. He took great delight in parrots and frequently sketched the birds at the parrot house in London Zoo, near his home. These visits inspired what is probably his most famous painting A Select Committee (1891), featuring macaws, parrots, and sulphur-crested cockatoos, now at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Marks was interested in the parallels between human behaviour and bird behaviour, but was discouraged from anthropomorphising them by Mr Bartlett, Superintendent of London Zoo. In this painting the two white birds are cockatoos, the toucan with its large beak sits between them, the green bird perched below is a parrot, and the brightly coloured macaw is on the right. Cockatoos come from Australasia, toucans and macaws from South America, while parrots are found in all tropical and subtropical continents.

This painting is in oils, but Marks also worked in watercolours, exhibiting at the Old Watercolour Society and at the Fine Art Society. Rather than using his name, he signed this painting with his monogram in the bottom right corner.

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