Barlow is the earliest known British-born animal painter. He began a tradition that reached a high-point in the work of George Stubbs a century later. During Barlow’s lifetime animal paintings were still largely associated with decorative arts and the interior design of houses.
The birds shown here are both exotic and unusual; they symbolise knowledge, wealth and power. Peregrine falcons are supreme birds of prey traditionally used in falconry, the sport of monarchs and aristocrats. Falcons, rollers and long-eared owls were not native species to Britain, adding an air of exoticism to the picture.