The dodo was a beast that was present in spirit rather than body in Europe, while it existed. A very few made it to collections or menageries- one was even taken by the Dutch to India as a diplomatic gift and painted by the court artist Ustad Mansur. However, very few whole dodos were ever seen.
The rich collection of images of dodos were the result primarily of imagination and a healthy dose of imaginative plagiarism. There is one set of sketches we know for sure were done from birds in Mauritius, from the Dutch ship The Gelderland that stopped at Mauritius en route to the Indies, but most other images are up for debate as to whether their artists ever saw a real bird, never mind a live one.
Adrienne van der Venne,
Ustad Mansur, Dodo and the birds, c.1625, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Roelandt Savery, c.1626, Crocker Art Museum
Cornelis Saftleven, Head of a Dodo, 1638, Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam.
Johan Neiuhof, Voyages and Travels, 1703
Dirck de Quade Van Ravesteyn (?), dodo in the collection of Rudolf II,
Willem Ysbrandtszoon Bontekoe, 1646, after Savery
Dodo and Gastrolith from Carolus Clusius, Exoticorum Libri Decem, 1602
De Bry & De Bry, 1601, The Dutch on Mauritius in 1598
Anon, The Dutch on Mauritius, Het Tvveede Boeck, 1601
Jacobus Bontius, Dronte, Historia Naturalis, 1658
The Edwards Dodo, Roelandt Savery, 1626 NHM
Sketches from the logbook of The Gelderland, VOC archives, 1602
© Natalie Lawrence: The Manticore 2018