Thorburn is best known for his watercolours of game birds. He executed relatively few oil paintings. Blackgame is one of a pair; its twin, Ptarmigan, is also in The Fleming Collection.
Oil on canvas
29.8 × 49.5 cm
Signed bottom left
Archibald Thorburn, 1860-1935
Born in Lasswade, near Edinburgh, Thorburn was the son of Robert Thorburn ARA, a leading miniaturist who worked for Queen Victoria. Robert Thorburn emphasized the importance of acute observation and careful attention to detail, and that his son heeded this advice is very evident in his work as a painter and illustrator of birds and animals. In 1885 Thorburn moved to London and that year, aged twenty-five, began work on illustrations for Lord Lilford's Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles, taking thirteen years to complete the 268 watercolours. His own British Birds, with a total of eighty coloured plates, was published in 1915-16.