Now for the first time ever, all 477 drawings of the flora and fauna of the Malay Peninsula, commissioned by William Farquhar when he was the British Resident and Commandant of Melaka from 1803 to 1818, are published in one volume. Farquhar had a deep interest in the flora and fauna of the region, and made several important zoological and botanical discoveries. In an era when photography was non-existent, the only means of recording nature and wildlife was through painting.
Covering a wide spectrum of species—comprising plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, invertebrates and fish—the evocative paintings were rendered in brilliant watercolour by Chinese artists who employed traditional Chinese brush techniques while attempting to show the perspective and naturalism that Western painting demanded—resulting in works that are a charming mix of two different art traditions. The drawings provide a window both into the natural history of the time and the 19th century British settlement in the Malay Peninsula.
Authoritative essays by John Bastin and Kwa Chong Guan provide insight on the background of the drawings and of Farquhar himself, while detailed captions by wildlife specialists Hassan lbrahim and Morten Strange describe each species depicted. Natural History Drawings: The Complete William Farquhar Collection, Malay Peninsula 1803–1818, is a colourful and fascinating record of the flora and fauna in the Malay Peninsula over a century ago. lt not only showcases some of the most fascinating wildlife still present in the region today, but is also an important record of the species that have been lost or are diminished in number, making it a valuable addition to the nature lover’s library, and is a must-read for anyone with a keen interest in the natural history of the region.