Edwards’ Dodo (Savery)

Edwards' Dodo (Savery)

The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Subfossil remains show the dodo was about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) tall and may have weighed 10.6–17.5 kg (23–39 lb) in the wild. The dodo’s appearance in life is evidenced only by drawings, paintings, and written accounts from the 17th century.

Image: the famous Edwards’s Dodo, painted by Roelant Savery, 1626. Image Courtesy Wikimedia

The Dutch painter Roelant Savery (1576 – buried 25 February 1639) was the most prolific and influential illustrator of the dodo, having made at least twelve depictions, often showing it in the lower corners. A famous painting of his from 1626, now called Edwards’s Dodo as it was once owned by the English naturalist and ornithologist George Edwards (3 April 1694 – 23 July 1773), has since become the standard image of a dodo.

Savery was a Flanders-born Dutch Golden Age painter. He primarily painted landscapes, often embellished with many meticulously painted animals and plants, regularly with a mythological or biblical theme as background. Among his best-known works are several depictions of the now-extinct dodo painted between 1611 and 1628.

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