|A puffin too far
||[Sep. 30th, 2016|03:03 pm]
I am, as you Bobs know, very fond of puffins. But there are lengths to which even I will not go to drag puffins into situations where they are not at home.
It is the season of the Christmas catalogues. They arrive in the post, and I leaf through them, before (almost invariably) adding them to the recycling bin. But this Amnesty Christmas card caught my eye:
At first glance, obviously, I was tempted: a puffin Christmas card, that's what I need! But wait -
The puffin is not a bird associated with Christmas. It comes to land to breed in the summer, and spends the winter mysteriously out at sea. Even without getting into discussions of whether the picture shows the bright beak of its summer plumage, those pink flowers are thrift, which does not bloom in December. Someone has gone to the trouble of adding a seasonal touch in the form of falling snow (this also has the advantage of explaining why the rocks on which the puffins are perched are streaked with white, which we would otherwise have taken for guano).
I went to the Amnesty website, looking for a copy of the picture to send my friendly neighbourhood cultural historian (to thank her for sending me a postcard - of a puffin, obviously - from Dublin) and found the additional information "Botanical plate by Pierre Joseph Redouté, the 'Raphael of flowers' and official court artist of Marie Antoinette." Wait, what? Can this possibly be correct? A cultural historian answers, by return of e-mail, no, it can't.
Despite which, Amnesty is a Good Thing, and if you saw that picture and thought "There's my Christmas cards sorted!", don't let me put you off. Here's a link to the shop.
ETA: The fabulous Gail-Nina has waved her magic wand, and the puffins are now correctly attributed to wildlife artist Lisa Hooper - and here they are on her website, with not a trace of snow to be seen - in the company of many other covetable prints.