The distinctive white neck feathers, purple-streaked wings, and red-tinged beak identify this tall bird as a woolly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus), a native species of India known for its unusual plumage and height. The meandering watercourse on the right side of the composition could be a reference to the riverine areas in which such birds are typically found. A digit from the bird’s right foot rests upon its left, illustrating the artist’s close study of the standing position of these creatures. This work, like the image of the nightjar (2004.175)nearby, has been attributed to a set of 658 ornithological paintings commissioned by the French serviceman Claude Martin.
Claude Martin, Lucknow, India (until d. 1800); [ Terence McInerneyNew York, until 2000; sold to MMA]
"Company Paintings; the Brief Flowering of a British-Indian Hybrid." Connoisseur (October 1989). p. 174.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 59 (2000–2001). p. 16, ill. (color).