A Cockatoo In The Louvre

In the Louvre, in one of the alcoves of Dutch painting, near the Bruegels can be found a painting in the corner of which is a painting of a sulphur crested cockatoo. This painting is dated 1632, Anvers (Antwerp, modern Belgium). Abel Tasman visited Australia 1642-1644. Earlier Dutch landings were ill-fated. At first I thought it evidence for earlier landings but Sulphur Crested Cockatoos could have been traded up through the ‘East Indies’ to the Dutch, possibly through Macassan traders. This kind of Cockatoo is also in New Guinea which both the Dutch and Portuguese knew of well before Australia. There was an even older medieval trade in Bird of Paradise pelts from New Guinea on Malay, Chinese, Indian and Arabic routes. (The other parrot looks somewhat like a Crimson Rosella but is certainly a Red Macaw.)

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