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University Libraries - John Abbot Watercolors of Lepidoptera of the South East

John Abbot Watercolors of Lepidoptera of the South East

Collection Description

The John Abbot Watercolors at the
University of South Carolina

About the Collection

Abbot WatercolorsThe Abbot Watercolor collection at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina consists of 149 illustrations of butterflies and moths. Each drawing within the collection is mounted and matted, measuring approximately 27cm x 16.5 cm. The drawings are housed in six blue half morocco cases with gilt-lettered backs.

According to Pamela Gilbert, formerly of the Natural History Museum (London), the drawings were commissioned by John Eatton Le Conte in 1813, with the instruction that Abbot “draw only the adults, larvae, and pupae” and that he not include the food plants (98). Le Conte traveled with the completed drawings to Paris in 1828, where he began work with Jean Alphonse Boisduval on Histoire générale et iconographie des lépidoptères et des chenilles de l'Amerique septentrionale. Le Conte and Boisduval used some of the Abbot drawings for the 1833 edition of their work. Boisduval apparently gave the drawings to French lepidopterist Louis M.A. Depuiset, who in turn gave them to Charles M. Oberthür, a former student of Boisduval. Four years after the death of Oberthür in 1924, a rare book dealer named La Chavalier purchased Oberthür’s library. The drawings were owned privately for the next thirty-nine years, and the identity of the owner(s) is not known. 

Abbot WatercolorssOn November 4, 1963, Sotheby’s and Company of London sold these drawings to the rare book firm H.P. Kraus of New York City. According to the Sotheby’s catalog (Lot 1), the drawings were previously the “property of a lady” who commissioned Sotheby’s to sell the drawings on her behalf (3). Finally, the University of South Carolina procured the drawings from H.P. Kraus in 1964, and the drawings have resided in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Thomas Cooper Library ever since.

For a fuller essay by John Calhoun on the background and provenance of this collection, click here.

References

Gilbert, Pamela. John Abbot: Birds, Butterflies and Other Wonders.London: Merrell Holberton, 1998.

Kraus, H.P. (firm). The Illustrated Book. Sales Catalog 108. New York, 1964

Sotheby & Company. (firm). Catalogue of a Fine Collection of Rare Books and Drawings on Natural History and Travel. London,1963.

Abbot Biography

 John AbbotJohn Abbot, a pioneering artist and naturalist who immigrated to the United States during the late 18th century, was born in 1751 to John and Ann Clousinger Abbot in London, England. According to art historian Vivian Rogers-Price, Abbot’s baptismal records list May 31 as the date of his birth, while Abbot himself claims he was born on June 1. Rogers-Price asserts that Abbot was actually born on June 11 (ANB13).

Although Abbot’s father, an attorney in the Court of King’s Bench (plea side), envisioned a career in law for his son, he nevertheless allowed John to receive instruction under the tutelage of the engraver Jacob Bonneau (1741-1786), who helped Abbot understand “the rules of drawing and perspective” (qtd. in Gilbert
9). In 1769, Abbot began a clerkship in his father’s law office, all the while continuing to collect, study and paint birds and insects. Despite his father’s desires, Abbot began to make plans to travel to North America to follow his passion for natural history.

In 1770, Abbot received some notoriety when he successfully exhibited two watercolor paintings of Lepidoptera in London at the Society of Artists in Great Britain. Three years later, Abbot left England in July to travel to Virginia with the financial backing of two English naturalists, Thomas Martyn (1735-1825) and Dru Drury (1725-1804). Abbot arrived in Hanover County Virginia on September 16th, initially establishing residence with a couple whom he met on his voyage, Parke and Mary Goodall. However, Abbot’s stay in Virginia was short-lived in part because of the tumult of the Revolutionary War. Abbot selected Georgia to be his new home, which would be Abbot’s home and base until his death in 1840. Abbot initially established residency in present-day Burke County, finding work as a subsistence farmer and a teacher. 

Before leaving London, Abbot had formed a business partnership with London jeweler John Francillion (1744-1816), who would serve as Abbot’s agent and sell Abbot’s specimens and paintings from America to the naturalists of Europe. Over two thousand paintings he completed for Francillon are now deposited in The Natural History Museum, London. In 1797 Abbot’s drawings received increased attention in naturalist and scientific circles due to the publication of The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia by Sir. James Edward Smith (1759-1828). The two-volume work included one hundred and four hand-colored engravings of Abbot’s paintings, along with Abbot’s notes and observations, given in both French and English. 

Map of Georgia -- Click to EnlargeIn 1806, Abbot moved to Chatham County, Georgia, near the important port city of Savannah, where he was able to better maintain contact with other naturalists in Europe as well as to get needed supplies more readily (MMCC 24). Also during this time Abbot began to collect and paint other species along the Georgia cost line, expanding his repertoire by developing an ardent interest in the birds of Georgia. 

Abbot’s work was again interrupted by the outbreak of war, when the United States declared War on Great Britain on June 12, 1812. Although Abbot initially considered abandoning his studies and work, he received a request from Augustus Gottlieb Oemler (1773-1852) and John Eatton Le Conte (1784-1860) for specimens and watercolors, thus prompting Abbot to resume his work. Six years later Abbot moved to Bulloch County in September. Abbot continued his work for the next twenty-years, painting and collecting until his death in 1840. He is buried in the old McElveen cemetery in Arcola, Bullock County, Georgia. A Georgia State Historical Marker (GHM016-02), located one mile south of U.S. Highway 80 on Arcola Road, Bullock County, Georgia, identifies his burial site. An older Georgia State Historical Marker (124-9), located along U.S. Highway 301, just south of S.R. 24, incorrectly identifies his burial site as five miles north of Sylvania, Screven County, Georgia. 

Throughout his life, Abbot is credited with over five thousand watercolor sketches, although the vast majority of which were never published. Along with the publication of The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia (the only work to bear his name), Abbot’s specimens and paintings are believed to have been utilized for a number of publications, including Johann Christian Fabricius’sEntomologia Systematica Emendata et Aucta (1792-1799), Thomas Martyn’s Psyche (1797), Jacob Hübner’s Sammlung Exotischer Schmetterlinge (1806-1838) and Zuträge zur Sammlung Exotischer Schmettlinge [sic] (1808-1837), William Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations (1820-1821), Jean Baptiste Alphonse Boisduval and John Eatton Le Conte’s Histoire Générale et Iconographie des Lépidoptères et des Chenilles de l'Amerique Septentrionale (1829-1837), Edward Doubleday’s The Entomologist (1840), Charles Athanase and Baron Walckenaer’s Histoire Naturelle des Insects: Aptères (1837-1847), and again in the 1836 volume of Herman August Hagen’s Abbot’sHandzeichnungen im Britischen Museum und die Neuroptera Georgiens (ANB 13).


References

Gilbert, Pamela. John Abbot: Birds, Butterflies and Other Wonders.London: Merrell Holberton, 1998. 

Rogers-Price, Vivian. “John Abbot.” American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 

----. John Abbot in Georgia: the Vision of a Naturalist Artist (1751-ca. 1840). Madison, Georgia: Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, 1983.

Searching the Collection

Abbot WatercolorsThe Abbot Watercolor collection at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, consists of 149 illustrations of butterflies and moths. Each drawing within the collection is mounted and matted, measuring approximately 27cm x 16.5 cm. The drawings are housed in six blue half morocco cases with gilt-lettered backs.

According to Pamela Gilbert, formerly of the Natural History Museum (London), the drawings were commissioned by John Eatton Le Conte in 1813, with the instruction that Abbot “draw only the adults, larvae, and pupae” and that he not include the food plants (98). Le Conte traveled with the completed drawings to Paris in 1828, where he began work with Jean Alphonse Boisduval on Histoire générale et iconographie des lépidoptères et des chenilles de l'Amerique septentrionale. Le Conte and Boisduval used some of the Abbot drawings for the 1833 edition of their work. Boisduval apparently gave the drawings to French lepidopterist Louis M.A. Depuiset, who in turn gave them to Charles M. Oberthür, a former student of Boisduval. Four years after the death of Oberthür in 1924, a rare book dealer named La Chavalier purchased Oberthür’s library. The drawings were owned privately for the next thirty-nine years, and the identity of the owner(s) is not known. 

Abbot WatercolorssOn November 4, 1963, Sotheby’s and Company of London sold these drawings to the rare book firm H.P. Kraus of New York City. According to the Sotheby’s catalog (Lot 1), the drawings were previously the “property of a lady” who commissioned Sotheby’s to sell the drawings on her behalf (3). Finally, the University of South Carolina procured the drawings from H.P. Kraus in 1964, and the drawings have resided in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at the Thomas Cooper Library ever since.

For a fuller essay by John Calhoun on the background and provenance of this collection, click here.


Inquries about the collection should be addressed to:

Rare Books and Special Collections
Thomas Cooper Library
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29205
Phone: 803-777-3847
Email: TCLRareBooks@mailbox.sc.edu 


References

Gilbert, Pamela. John Abbot: Birds, Butterflies and Other Wonders.London: Merrell Holberton, 1998.

Kraus, H.P. (firm). The Illustrated Book. Sales Catalog 108. New York, 1964

Sotheby & Company. (firm). Catalogue of a Fine Collection of Rare Books and Drawings on Natural History and Travel. London,1963.

Part 1

 

#1 Image number: 1

Latin name: Papilio cresphontes (Cramer)

English: Giant Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge
 

 
#2 Image number: 2

Latin name: Eurytides marcellus (Cramer)

English: Zebra Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge
 

 
#3

Image number: 3

Latin name: Eurytides marcellus (Cramer)

English: Zebra Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#4

Image number: 4

Latin name: Eurytides celadon (Lucas)

English: Celadon Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#5

Image number: 5

Latin name: Papilio polyxenes (Fabricius)

English: Black Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#6

Image number: 6

Latin name: Papilio polyxenes (Fabricius)

English: Black Swallowtail

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#7

Image number: 7

Latin name: Ascia monuste (L.)

English: Great Southern White

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#8

Image number: 8

Latin name: Phoebis sennae (L.)

English: Cloudless Sulphur

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#9

Image number: 9

Latin name: Zerene cesonia (Stoll)

English: Southern Dogface

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#10

Image number: 10

Latin name: a. Parrhasius m-album (Bois. & Le Conte); b. Strymon melinus (Hübner) 

English: a. White M Hairstreak; b. Gray Hairstreak

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#11

Image number: 11

Latin name: a. Callophrys niphon (Hübner); b. Satyrium titus (Fabricius); c. Callophrys gryneus (Hübner)

English: a. Eastern Pine Elfin; b. Coral Hairstreak; c. Olive Juniper Hairstreak

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#12

Image number: 12

Latin name: a. Satyrium liparops (Bois. & Le Conte); b.Callophrys henrici (Grote & Robinson)

English: a. Striped Hairsteak; b. Henry's Elfin

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#13

Image number: 13

Latin name: a. Satyrium titus (Fabricius); b. Satyrium titus (Fabricius); c. Strymon melinus (Hübner); d.Strymon melinus (Hübner); e. unidentified moth species

English: a. Coral Hairstreak; b. Coral Hairstreak; c. Gray Hairstreak; d. Gray Hairstreak. e. ?

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#14

Image number: 14

Latin name: a. Calycopis cecrops (Fabricius); b.Calycopis cecrops (Fabricius); c. Calycopis cecrops(Fabricius); d. Calycopis cecrops (Fabricius); e.Hemiargus ceraunus (Fabricius); f. Hemiargus ceraunus(Fabricius); g. Hemiargus ceraunus (Fabricius)

English: a. Red-Banded Hairstreak; b. Red-Banded Hairstreak; c. Red-Banded Hairstreak; d. Red-Banded Hairstreak; e. Ceraunus Blue; f. Ceraunus Blue; g. Ceraunus Blue.

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#15

Image number: 15

Latin name: a. Lycaena hyllus (Cramer); b. Lycaena epixanthe (Bois. & Le Conte); c. Lycaena hyllus(Cramer); d. Lycaena epixanthe (Bois. & Le Conte); e.Lycaena hyllus (Cramer).

English: a. Bronze Copper; b. Bog Copper; c. Bronze Copper; d. Bog Copper; e. Bronze Copper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#16

Image number: 16

Latin name: a. Celastrina ladon (Cramer); b. Cupidocomyntas (Godart)

English: a. Spring Azure; b. Eastern Tailed-Blue

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#17

Image number: 17

Latin name: Calephelis virginiensis (Guérin-Méneville)

English: Little Metalmark

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#18

Image number: 18

Latin name: Danaus plexippus (L.)

English: Monarch

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#19

Image number: 19

Latin name: Danaus gilippus (Cr.)

English: Queen

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#20

Image number: 20

Latin name: Heliconius charithonia (L.)

English: Zebra Heliconian

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#21

Image number: 21

Latin name: Agraulis vanillae (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: Gulf Fritillary

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#22

Image number: 22

Latin name: Speyeria idalia (Drury)

English: Regal Fritillary

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#23

Image number: 23

Latin name: a. Boloria selene (Denis & Schiffermüller); b. Boloria selene (Denis & Schiffermüller); c. Speyeria cybele (Fabricius); d. Speyeria cybele (Fabricius); e.Boloria bellona (Fabricius); f. Boloria bellona (Fabricius)

English: a. Silver-bordered Fritillary; b. Silver-bordered Fritillary; c. Great Spangled Fritillary; d. Great Spangled Fritillary; e. Meadow Fritillary; f. Meadow Fritillary

Notes | Enlarge

 

 
#24 Image number: 24

Latin name: a. Chlosyne gorgone (Hübner) b. Euptoieta claudia (Cramer)

English: a. Gorgone Checkerspot; b. Variegated Fritillary

Notes: Full discussion of this plate by John V. Calhoun, Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 57:2 (@003):204-219. | Enlarge
 

 
#25 Image number: 25

Latin name: a. Euphydryas phaeton (Drury); b. Phyciodes batesii(Reakirt); c. Euphydryas phaeton (Drury); d. Phyciodes tharos (Drury); e. Phyciodes tharos (Drury)

English: a. Baltimore Checkerspot; b. Tawny Crescent; c. Baltimore Checkerspot; d. Pearl Crescent; e. Pearl Crescent

Notes | Enlarge

 

#26 Image number: 26

Latin name: Polygonia interrogationis (Fabricius)

English: Question Mark

Notes | Enlarge
 

 

#27 Image number: 27

Latin name: Junonia coenia (Hübner)

English: Common Buckeye

Notes | Enlarge
 

 


 

#28

Image number: 28

Latin name: Junonia coenia (Hübner)

English: Common Buckeye

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#29

Image number: 29

Latin name: Vanessa virginiensis (Drury)

English: American Lady

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#30

Image number: 30

Latin name: Vanessa atalanta (L.)

English: Red Admiral

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#31

Image number: 31

Latin name: Nymphalis antiopa (L.)

English: Mourning Cloak

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#32

Image number: 32

Latin name: a. Roddia vaualbum (Denis & Schiffermüler); b. Polygonia progne (Cramer); c. Roddia vaualbum (Denis & Schiffermüler); d. Aglais milberti(Godart); e. Polygonia progne (Cramer); f. Aglais milberti (Godart)

English: a. Compton Tortoiseshell; b. Gray Comma; c. Compton Tortoiseshell; d. Milbert's Tortoiseshell; e. Gray Comma; f. Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#33

Image number: 33

Latin name: Limenitis arthemis (Drury)

English: Red-spotted Purple

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#34

Image number: 34

Latin name: Limenitis arthemis (Drury)

English: White Admiral

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#35

Image number: 35

Latin name: Asterocampa clyton (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: Tawny Emperor

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#36

Image number: 36

Latin name: Asterocampa celtis (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: Hackberry Emperer

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#37

Image number: 37

Latin name: Historis odius (Fabricius)

English: Orion

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#38

Image number: 38

Latin name: Libytheana carinenta (Cramer)

English: American Snout

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#39

Image number: 39

Latin name: a. Enodia creola (Skinner); b. Enodia portlandia (Fabricius)

English: a. Creole Pearly-eye; b. Southern Pearly-eye

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#40

Image number: 40

Latin name: Satyrodes appalachia (R. L. Chermock)

English: Appalachian Brown

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#41

Image number: 41

Latin name: a. Hermeuptychia sosybius (Fabricius); b.Neonympha areolatus (J. E. Smith)

English: a. Carolina Satyr; b. Georgia Satyr

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#42

Image number: 42

Latin name: a. Achalarus lyciades (Geyer); b.Epargyreus clarus (Cramer)

English: a. Hoary Edge; b. Silver-spotted Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#43

Image number: 43

Latin name: Urbanus proteus (L.)

English: Long-tailed Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#44

Image number: 44

Latin name: Megathymus yuccae (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: Yucca Giant-Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#45

Image number: 45

Latin name: a. Calpodes ethlius (Stoll); b. Calpodes ethlius (Stoll); c. Polites vibex (Geyer); d. Polites vibex(Geyer)

English: Brazilian Skipper; b. Brazilian Skipper; c. Southern Broken-Dash; d. Whirlabout; e. Whirlabout

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#46

Image number: 46

Latin name: Problema bulenta (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: Rare Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#47

Image number: 47

Latin name: a. Hylephila phyleus (Drury); b.Wallengrenia otho (J. E. Smith)

English: a. Fiery Skipper; b. Southern Broken-Dash

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#48

Image number: 48

Latin name: a. Wallengrenia egeremet (Scudder) b.Wallengrenia egeremet (Scudder); c. Wallengrenia otho(J. E. Smith); d. Poanes zabulon (Bois. & Le Conte); e.Poanes zabulon (Bois. & Le Conte); f. Amblyscirtes aesculapias (Fabricius); g. Amblyscirtes aesculapias(Fabricius)

English: a. Northern Broken-Dash; b. Northern Broken-Dash; c. Southern Broken-Dash; d. Zabulon Skipper; e. Zabulon Skipper; f. Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper; g. Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#49 Image number: 49

Latin name: a. Nastra lherminier (Latrielle); b. Polites origines(Fabricius); c. Polites themistocles (Latreille); d. Atalopedes campestris(Boisduval); e. Poanes yehl (Skinner); f. Atalopedes campestris(Boisduval); g. Poanes yehl (Skinner)

English: a. Swarthy Skipper; b. Crossline Skipper; c. Tawny-edged Skipper; d. Sachem; e. Yehl Skipper; f. Sachem; g. Yehl Skipper

Notes | Enlarge
 

 


 

#50 Image number: 50

Latin name: a. Anatrytone logan (W. H. Edwards); b. Anatrytone logan(W. H. Edwards); c. Anatrytone logan (W. H. Edwards); d. Polites peckius (W. Kirby); e. Polites peckius (W. Kirby)

English: a. Delaware Skipper; b. Delaware Skipper; c. Delaware Skipper; d. Peck's Skipper; e. Peck's Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

#51 Image number: 51

Latin name: a. Polites themistocles (Latreille); b. Polites themistocles(Latreille); c. Atrytone arogos (Bois. & Le Conte); d. Atrytone arogos(Bois. & Le Conte); e. Atrytone arogos (Bois. & Le Conte); f. Poanes zabulon (Bois. & Le Conte); g. Poanes zabulon (Bois. & Le Conte)

English: a. Tawny-edged Skipper; b. Tawny-edged Skipper; c. Arogos Skipper; d. Arogos Skipper; d. Arogos Skipper; e. Arogos Skipper; f. Zabulon Skipper; g. Zabulon Skipper

Notes | Enlarge
 

 

#52 Image number: 52

Latin name: a. Polites baracoa (Lucas); b. Wallengrenia ophites Mabille; c. Polites baracoa (Lucas); d. Wallengrenia ophites Mabille. 

English: a. Baracoa Skipper; b.  Broken-Dash; c. Baracoa Skipper; d.  Broken Dash

Notes | Enlarge
 

 


 

#53

Image number: 53

Latin name: a. Euphyes vestris (Boisduval); b. Euphyes vestris(Boisduval); c. Euphyes vestris (Boisduval); d. Lerema accius (J. E. Smith); e. Lerema accius (J. E. Smith); f. Lerema accius (J. E. Smith); g. Oligoria maculata (W. H. Edwards); Oligoria maculata (W. H. Edwards)

English: a. Dun Skipper; b. Dun Skipper; c. Dun Skipper; d. Clouded Skipper; e. Clouded Skipper; f. Clouded Skipper; g. Twin-spot Skipper; h. Twin-spot Skipper

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#54

Image number: 54

Latin name: a. Panoquina ocola (W. H. Edwards); b. Panoquina ocola(W. H. Edwards); c. Panoquina ocola (W. H. Edwards); d. Pholisora catullus (Fabricius); e. Pholisora catullus (Fabricius); f. Pholisora catullus (Fabricius)

English: a. Ocola Skipper; b. Ocola Skipper; c. Ocola Skipper; d. Common Sootywing; e. Common Sootywing; f. Common Sootywing

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#55

Image number: 55

Latin name: a. Erynnis brizo (Bois. & Le Conte); b. Erynnis juvenalis(Fabricius)

English: a. Sleepy Duskywing; b. Juvenal's Duskywing

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#56

Image number: 56

Latin name: a. Harrisina americana (Guérin); b. Cisseps fulvicollus (Hübner); c. Melittia cucurbitae (Harris)

English: a. Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth; b. Yellow-collared Scape Moth; c. Squash Vine Borer Moth

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#57

Image number: 57

Latin name: Hemaris gracilis (Grote & Robinson)?

English: Slender Clearwing

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#58

Image number: 58

Latin name: Hemaris thysbe (Fabricius)

English: Hummingbird Clearwing

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#59

Image number: 59

Image number: 59

Latin name: Amphion floridensis (B. P. Clark)

English: Nessus Sphinx

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#60

Image number: 60

Latin name: Enyo lugubris (L.)

English: Mournful Sphinx

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#61

Image number: 61

Latin name: Xylophanes tersa (L.)

English: Tersa Sphinx

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#62

Image number: 62

Latin name: Hyles lineata (Fabricius)

English: White-lined Sphinx

Notes | Enlarge

 

 


 

#63

Image number: 63

Latin name: Eumorpha fasciatus (Sulzer)

English: Banded Sphinx

Notes | Enlarge