ORCHIDS OF AUSTRALIA
Fitzgerald, Robert David (1830-1892)
Hand coloured Lithographs , drawn by Fitzgerald, engraved by A.J. Stopps
Published in Sydney 1875-1882
R.D Fitzgerald, surveyor and naturalist, was born on 30 November 1830 at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, son of Robert David FitzGerald, banker, and his wife Mary Ann, née Bell. He studied civil engineering at Queen's College, Cork, arrived at Sydney in 1856 and was appointed to the Department of Lands as a draftsman in August. In 1868 he was given charge of the roads branch and in 1873 became deputy surveyor general. In 1874-82 he was also chief mining surveyor and for some years controller of the Church and School Lands. On the surveyors' licensing board he examined cadet surveyors. After the Crown Lands Act, 1884, he sat on the commission of three to consider the future working of the department; much retrenchment resulted and his own office was abolished on 30 November 1887. In 1888-92 he served on the Public Service Commission.
FitzGerald was an enthusiastic ornithologist and a skilful taxidermist; in addition to some poetry, he contributed twenty articles on the birds of Kerry to the Kerry Magazine in 1855-56. From 1856 his drawings indicate his early interest in Australian natural history. He eagerly accompanied Walter Scott Campbell to Wallis Lake, north of Newcastle, in 1864 and collected ferns and orchids for the greenhouse and gardens of his home, Adraville, Hunter's Hill. In May 1869 with Charles Moore and William Carron he visited Lord Howe Island; in 1871 he returned to the island and again in November 1876, each time making botanical collections. In 1874 he was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society of London and in 1876 a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
With Arthur James Stopps (1833-1931), a lithographer in the Lands Department, FitzGerald published the first seven parts of his Australian Orchids between July 1875 and October 1882. These comprised Volume I, dedicated to Charles Darwin. Four parts of Volume II were published before 1892 and the fifth published by his friend Henry Deane. The exquisite lithograph plates, which included enlargements of FitzGerald's painstaking dissections, were hand-coloured by various artists from instructions and sample sheets coloured by FitzGerald.
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