How Did This Australian Bird End Up In A 518-Year-Old European Painting?

An intriguing story for the art world this morning with questions around just how a bird which looks very much like a sulphur-crested cockatoo managed to find its way into a religious painting from 1496.

Not only is the cocky in the painting, which raises the question of how it got there, but University of Melbourne academic Heather Dalton says the bird has the exalted position as the Holy Spirit in the picture.

We know that just around 30 years after the painting was done the Portuguese gained a foothold in Indonesia but the prominent status of the bird and its lifelike pose suggests it was painted live.

That’s according to The Australian which also says:

the bird’s journey to Renaissance Italy from remote Australasia – predating the earliest known European contact – raises intriguing questions about 15th-century trade.

Indeed it does.

You can read more here.

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