We are pleased to offer this stunning originally hand-colored engraving from Mark Catesbys 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. This is the second edition of the work published in 1754 in London. It was printed for Charles Marsh, Thomas Wilcox, and Benjamin Stichall. The engravings are on fine chain-linked, watermarked paper.
Mark Catesby was the first American naturalist and illustrator. Though born in England in 1682, Catesby spent several years of his life in the colonies studying the natural flora and fauna. He was so fascinated he produced the first color plate, natural history work on American flora and fauna. One of the signatures of Catesbys work is that it incorporates plant and animal life on the same page. Combining the flora and fauna was to save time and money but also began a new style of print composition.
“Mark Catesby made a valuable and important contribution to ornithological illustration. He was confident enough to break new ground – to portray his birds more naturally than before, with foliage backgrounds, and to adopt the folio format. He depicted the natural history of one area in its entirety, and often drew from living models … AS HIS WAS THE EARLIEST PUBLISHED NATURAL HISTORY OF A PART OF THE NEW WORLD, HE HAS BEEN CALLED THE FATHER OF AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY.” (Jackson)
Catesby set out to illustrate all the plants, birds, fish, and reptiles in America. His work greatly contributed to the natural sciences of the 18th century. Hunt describes the work as: “the most famous color-plate book of American plant and animal life, and a fundamental and original work for the study of American species. Engravers could not be afforded to get the work to print, so Catesby studied under Joseph Goupy where he learned how to etch the plates himself. The result of his dedication is this wonderfully detailed and informative work which gave a detailed view of the natural world of America.
Catesby’s work was also the first to abandon the Indian names for his subjects, trying to establish scientific names based on generic relationships. Linnaeus used Catesby’s work as the basis for his system of binomial nomenclature for the American species.
Provenance: George M. Pflaumer.