This beautiful entomology engraving is from Dru Drurys Illustrations of natural history. Wherein are exhibited upwards of two hundred and forty figures of exotic insects, according to their different genera; very few of which have hitherto been figured by any author, being engraved and coloured from nature, with the greatest accuracy, and under the author’s own inspection … With a particular description of each insect: interspersed with remarks and reflections on the nature and properties of many of them. To which is added, a translation into French. The work was printed for the author in London between 1770 and 1782. Each engraving features original hand-coloring and is on undated Whatman watermarked paper. Most the of the plates were by and after Moses Harris.
Drury was a wealthy goldsmith who had a passion for insects and possessed over 11,000 species in his collection. “By virtue of his marriage and inheritance of the family business he was a reasonably wealthy man who could afford to support his most serious hobby entomology. Drury’s collection had great fame during his life time. He spent much time and money persuading others to collect specimens for him from foreign countries. He had a wide correspondence with entomologists around the world. Linnaeus (1707-1778) and Willliam Kirby (1759-1850) both named species after him.” (Harvey, Gilbert & Martin, A catalogue of manuscripts in the Entomological library… 119).
“Although originally conceived as a publication to illustrate all the specimens that came in, Drury soon changed his mind and eventually decided to illustrate only those specimens which had not previously been drawn. Years later, the eminent British entomologist W.F. Kirby described the work as an ‘Opus entomologicus splendissimus’!” (Gilbert, Butterfly Collectors and Painters, p.140) His vast collection was sold in London after his death, where Edward Donovan won the lot for 614 pounds.