From the Catesby originals in the Royal Collection
Catesby, Mark, 1683-1749.
The largest white billed wood-pecker & the willow-oak
Reproduction, no. 49 of 50. London: Alecto Historical Editions, 1996.
--This facsimile of one of Mark Catesby's watercolor drawings, reproduced recently from the original in the Royal Collection, is one of three purchased in 1997 for the library's ornithological collections by the Thomas Cooper Society. The English botanist and ornithologist Mark Catesby spent substantial periods of study in America, first in Virginia in 1710-1719, and then in Carolina in 1722-1726, and brought back a large number of specimens for his scientific patrons, Sir Hans Sloane and William Sherrard. Engravings from these watercolors were published in his influential Natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (2 vols., London, 1731-1743).
The first great book on American birds
Catesby, Mark, 1683-1749.
"The Blue Heron," vol. I, plate 70,
The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands; containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants; particularly, those not hitherto described, or incorrectly figured by former authors, with their descriptions in English and French.
2 vols. Third edition. London: Printed for B. White, 1771. On Whatman paper. Contemporary russia. Gift of Claudia Lea Phelps.
--The first volume of Catesby's great work was published in 1731, earning him election as Fellow of the Royal Society, and the second volume followed in 1743. He had learned etching specially for the project, which he illustrated himself. In addition to the Phelps copy, shown here, Thomas Cooper Library has a second Catesby differing markedly in coloring, the gift of Mr. & Mrs. J. Henry Fair. A digital version of Catesby's Natural History (page-by-page images of text and plates) is available from the University of Wisconsin's Decorative Arts site at http://libtext.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/DLDecArts/DLDecArts-idx?issueid=CateNatHisV1&type2=header&submit=Browse
An Original Watercolor Sketch from 18th Century South Carolina
Unknown artist, c. 1765.
The Blue Jay of South-Carolina upon a Crab-Tree Branch
From the collection presented by Mrs. William Carroll Brown, Belton, S.C.
--this original sketch comes from the earliest surviving sizeable collection of natural history watercolors done in the United States. This is a mid-18th century album of 32 paintings from South Carolina and east Florida, depicting both plants and birds. The album was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. William Carroll Brown in 1952, and donated to Thomas Cooper Library by Mrs. Brown in 1991. At various times the sketches have been attributed to Mark Catesby (1683-1749), William Bartram of Philadelphia (1739-1823), John Abbot (1749-1840), or (most recently) to the South Carolinian amateur artist John Laurens (1754-1782), son of Henry Laurens, who was in east Florida in the relevant years.