Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 99 x 178 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mrs J.W. Mackail 1938
Reference
N04941

Display caption

Georgina Macdonald painted Dead Bird when she was 17 years old. She trained at the Government School of Design, London. This detailed, life-sized execution reflects both contemporary interest in natural history, a common pursuit for educated young women at the time, and the artist’s studies with the progressive painter Ford Madox Brown. The bird, a Green-Headed Tanager (Tangara seledon) had been brought from South America.

Macdonald had joined the Pre-Raphaelite circle at the age of 15, and was influenced by the critic John Ruskin who encouraged artists to focus on the appearance and significance of nature and natural forms.

Gallery label, October 2013