Sunday, 30 May 2010

Macaws, Aras, Cockatoos and other Parrots

part I: Cockatoos

I like investigating things. Since working on an a Martin Erich Philipp's color woodblock printings index, because there is no such thing ever published nor is there a book covering his woodblock art, I want to own one of his Parrot prints one day. The index, although not yet complete, wil be uploaded soon.

In the meantime I will have to do with my probaly German Parrot "handdruck", 25 x 40 cm. I restored some minor pinholes and a small tear about 1 cm. The colors somewhat bleeched, although not much color was needed to print it since the paper's color is part of the design. Dating around the 1920's ?
Sofar I have not been able to decipher or puzzle out the monogram (AM, AE, AF, AW ?) and signature making something ending ....ermann, (A. Ukermann, Wasserman perhaps ?) This print and the Philipp parrots started this investigation into Parrot prints.

Kaketoe/Kakatoe, Kakadu, Cockatoo
The Dutch Etymological dictionary:--1622, derived from Malayan "Kakaktua" meaning "a pair of pincers". Or maybe: Malayan: "Kakak"/bird, "Kaka"/sister, "Tua"/older: Older Sister ?
The Cacatuidae family comprising 21 species of birds within the order of Parrots or Psittaformes. Cockatoos are exclusively Australasian parrots: Australia and "neighbouring" Islands. Old World parrots.

Searching for Cockatoo prints, amazingly I noticed that most of them were exclusively of Dutch and German origin. Pure white-feathered birds giving a nice contrast for lithographers, etching and drawing Artists.
In America Jessie Arms-Botke (1883 - 1971) had more then a fascination for white feathered birds. Although not a printer but a painter she really must be included here because of her wonderfull Cockatoo and many other exotic and paradisaical bird and flowerpaintings.

Also I found out that you can probably fill a book on the subject of Women with Parrot paintings. Parrots and beautifull reclining and nude odalisks from the 1600's onto Manet have intriqued generations of painters although I can think of no symbolic explanation other then the exotic.
L: Jan Schonk (1889 - 1976) Dutch grafic artist
R: Jesserun de Mesquita (1868 - 1944 murdered by the Nazi's in Auschwitz)

1) signed L. Hoogkamer (unknown), 2) (NOID), 3) signed J. Rykhoek (unknown)
Adriaan Johannes van't Hoff
Dutch grafic artist (1893 - 1939)
Although not woodblock- or linoprints I decided his amazing Cockatoos cannot be left out.

Gerhard Winkelman
German/dutch ? linocutprintmaker active ca. 1930's
"Handdruck Linolschnitt" ca. 1930
Norbertine von Bresslern-Roth
German painter and woodblock printmaker
(1891 - 1978)

"Kakadus", linolschnitt (linocut)

Fritz Lang
German wood and linocut printer (1877 - 1961)

Ohara Koson (Shoson)
Japanese printmaker (1977 - 1945)

These 3 sets of prints dating 1926 - 1930
Hodo Nishimura
Japanese prinbtmakeraround 1930 (after Hoson ?)
Dutch drawings

L: Dirk Homberg (dutch 1885-1952)
R: Leo Glans (dutch 1911-1980) Rose kaketoes in ARTIS (Amsterdam ZOO 1930)

I never believe nor claim this rainy-day piece to be a complete oversight of all Cockatoo woodblock-prints, lithographs, etchings and drawings. I suggest our centuries old colonial history (Indonesia) made these birds somewhat more familair to Dutch artists then others. But that's only a suggestion.
Please read it as an invitation to comment and to send me anything that will make it better and/or more complete.
PS: A follow up on "other" coloured parrot prints", Macaws - Ara's (New World parrots) is in preparation and will be forthcoming soon. But since the weather is clearing up, no exact time nor date can be given.


  1. Hi Gerrie

    I came across your blog after attending the "Treasures from Budapest" exhibition. Being from Australia a painting by Jakob Bogdany caught my eye. It is entitled Still-life with Fruits, Parrots and White Cockatoo, 1710s. The short biography of the painter confirmed that he had spent most of his productive life in Amsterdam and England spending time at the Windsor Aviary. This intrigued me as the English had not made it to Australia in 1710 but the Dutch had. Certainly the painter never had. I presume the Cockatoo depicted in the painting returned to Europe on a Dutch vessel. Most interesting. Thanks for the blog.


  2. Hello Lindsay, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Few people do and I really appriciate. Interesting and keen observation about Jacob. Were was the exhibition ?
    I will try to to find the painting through Google and have a look. When I find it maybe I'll do something with it on my Blog as a follow up on the Macaws posting. I still have a posting to finish on "All other parrots on woodblocks" too.

  3. Hi there,
    This post and discussion has been very interesting to me, as I am just starting out research on Cockatoos and other 'Australian' (well, australasian perhaps) birds present in Japanese prints and paintings.

    The Dutch must really have been taking Cockatoos all over the world in their tradings. As Lindsay has touched on above, artists who had never been to Australia have been creating a vast variety of Cockatoo imagery.

    I went to Japan last year to attend an amazing exhibition of works by famous Japanese painter Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800). His most famous works are spectacular imagery of various species of birds, including roosters, peacocks, and.....cockatoos!
    I was struck by one painting from 1771, an ink scroll that depicts what is obviously a Cockatoo in a very traditionally Japanese style & format. (see link here:

    For me as an Australian, cockatoos are symbolically our own (as raucous as they are) and to see them present in the art history of Germany, Holland and Japan is so intrigueing for me.

    No doubt that the Dutch had a role here in shipping these birds around the world, and artists like Jakuchu created these wonderful artworks of these strange exotic birds.

    I've also seen other Australian parrots and birds in Japanese artworks. You may like to have a look at this scroll which details all kind of wonderful and strange birds, painted by Japanese artists around the early 1800s here:

  4. Always appriciated to receive comments especially on older posts. And from that "far away" Melinda. This was one of my first Blog attempts and was great fun doing. Looking back I had no idea the item would be so big. That's why part II (the new world parrots) is still under "evaluation". I will have a peek at the link now. Greetings from above.