This originally hand-colored engraving is from Benjamin Wilkes’s English Moths and Butterflies, representing their changes into the Caterpillar, Chrysalis, and Fly States, and the Plants, Flowers, and Fruits, whereon they feed. Coloured with great exactness from the subjects themselves. With a Natural History of the Moths and Butterflies, describing the method of managing, preserving, and feeding them… This is the second edition that was published in London by Benjamin White in 1773.
This is considered one of the most beautifully illustrated works on English butterflies and moths. Most of the botanicals were after drawings by George Ehret and Jacob van Huysum. The engravings show the complete life cycles of individual species.
“Benjamin Wilkes was one of the most significant of the group of eighteenth-century ‘aurelians’ which established British entomology in the direction it was to follow for well over a century.” (Wilkinson, Benjamin Wilkes, the British Aurelian p. 4)
Henry Baker notes in the preface, “As to the Plants, Flowers and Fruits, he [Wilkes] declares himself under the highest obligation to a most curious Naturalist, and worthy member of the Royal Society of London, whose costly and valuable Collection is known to the learned world, and esteemed as it derserves. This Gentleman has generously permitted him to make use of many excellent Paintings of these subjects, which were taken from Nature by those two celebrated Artists Mr. George Dennis [sic] Ehret, and Mr. Jacobus van Heysum [sic], and executed with the utmost Judgment and Command of Pencil, so that he could hardly doubt but that the true Copies of them would give great Pleasure to the Lovers of Botany, whom he has endeavoured to entertain with all the Variety he could introduce.”