The Water Rail (Rallus Aquatus)

The Water Rail (Rallus Aquatus) by Jemima Blackburn (née Wedderburn) (1823-1909). 1862. Hand-colored version of a plate from Birds Drawn from Nature. Courtesy of Panteek Prints ( The artist's initials appear in lower left corner. Click on image to enlarge it. Follow for monochrome version.

Blackburn notes in the accompanying annotation, "This drawing is from a freshly killed specimen in the neighborhood of Glasgow, in January, 1861." In her preface to Birds Drawn from Nature, Blackburn notes that her specimens come from living birds or those "so fresh as to preserve most of the characteristic appearances of life, while the attitude and background have been studied from careful observation of the habits of the wild birds." In positioning the Water Rail in its natural habitat, Blackburn reveals her careful observation of the bird's environment and attitude, providing authenticity to her depiction of a "freshly killed specimen." The yellow flowers, green grasses, and light brown tree branch in the background blend well with the bird's yellow-brown tail feathers, protectively camouflaging it.

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and the Harvard University Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow.


Blackburn, Jemima. Birds Drawn from Nature. Glasgow: James Maclehose, 1862. Internet Archive online version in the Harvard University Library. Web. 11 January 2021.

Last modified 15 January 2021