Mark Catesby's Natural History of America: Watercolours from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle

Mark Catesby's Natural History of America: Watercolours from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle

by Henrietta McBurney, Windsor Castle Staff, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Staff
     
 

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The Natural History, the life work of the English naturalist and artist Mark Catesby (1682-1749), the most important precursor of Audubon, was twenty years in the making, from 1729 to 1749. It was the first comprehensive study of the flora and fauna of the eastern seaboard of North America, and its beautifully finished, often striking images remained an indispensable… See more details below

Overview

The Natural History, the life work of the English naturalist and artist Mark Catesby (1682-1749), the most important precursor of Audubon, was twenty years in the making, from 1729 to 1749. It was the first comprehensive study of the flora and fauna of the eastern seaboard of North America, and its beautifully finished, often striking images remained an indispensable reference source throughout the century of its publication. Published here for the first time are the original watercolors from which Catesby prepared the etchings which accompanied his published volumes. Having been stored away from the light between the pages of a unique copy of the book in the Royal Library at Windsor, which King George III bought in 1768, they are wonderfully fresh, and communicate all the enthusiasm of the pioneer naturalist amazed by the colors and variety of the new species of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, insects and plants he was documenting (some of them now extinct). The watercolors have recently undergone conservation at the Royal Library and selections are being exhibited at several international venues. The conservation has brought to light many new drawings illustrating Catesby's working methods, and Henrietta McBurney's research sheds valuable new light on Catesby and the composition of his epochal Natural History.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
McBurney, deputy curator of the Print Room at the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, presents new research on the watercolors of Mark Catesby (1682-1749), a British artist and naturalist. His Natural History (1729-49) was the first comprehensive study of the flora and fauna of the eastern coast of North America. Published here for the first time are the original watercolors, having undergone recent conservation; from these watercolors Catesby prepared the etchings that illustrated his published volumes. McBurney gives a historical introduction to the Windsor volumes, followed by a note on the natural history albums of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), a Catesby patron. She then presents the catalog, which is accompanying an exhibition of selected watercolors in the United States and Britain. Each plate includes quotations drawn from Catesby's Natural History text, artist's name, titles of drawings, modern common and scientific names, and numbering and colors. McBurney's scholarship makes this handsome book an invaluable source for all fine arts/natural history collections in public and academic libraries as well as special collections. Highly recommended.Daniel Kalk, Enfield, Ct.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780890900819
Publisher:
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The
Publication date:
04/01/1997
Pages:
160

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