Sarah Stone's watercolour birds

In this episode Ben Miller uncovers an incredible collection of more than 170 watercolour illustrations of exotic birds, kept at the Natural History Museum in London. Painted by the nature artist Sarah Stone in the late 18th century, these rich studies gave the public a first look at many unknown bird species from around the world. Ben hears more about the album’s origins from curator Paul Martyn Cooper, while bird expert David Lindo and nature writer Stephen Moss discuss the symbolic importance of birds to our culture. Finally, artist Kate MccGwire gives an insight into Stone’s likely working methods and also explains how birds have come to be a central part of her own artistic practice.

You can see one of the album's exquisite illustrations by visiting

Further reading:

Sarah Stone: Natural Curiosities from the New Worlds by Christine E. Jackson (Merrell Publishers)

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