Botanical Prints by Mark Catesby

  • L0035354 White magnolia blossom and seed pod, 1731
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Illustration showing white magnolia blossom (Magnolia altifima) and its seed pod.
This is the laurel tree of Carolina and displays its fragrant blossoms from May till November. On the surface of the fruit are many little protuberances, in each of which lies a single seed, covered with a red film. In August, when the fruit is ripe, the seeds are discharged although they do not fall immediately to the ground but hang suspended by small white threads. The tree is native to Florida and South Carolina.
Printed Reproduction
18th Century The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands: containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants: particularly the forest-trees, shrubs, and other plants, not hitherto described, or very incorrectly figured by authors. Together with their descriptions in English and French. To which are added observations on the air, soil, and waters: with remarks upon agriculture, grain, pulse, roots, &c. To the whole, is prefixed a new and correct map of the countries treated of /
Mark Catesby
Published: 1731-1743.

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
  • 355px-flamingo_with_keratophyton_plant_bahamas_1731_wellcome_l0035361-1
  • globe_fish_with_cornus_and_an_phaseolus_plants_1731_wellcome_l0035367
  • L0035347 Parrot of Carolina on Cypress tree, 1731
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Parrot of Carolina (Psitticus Caroliniensis) perched on Cypress tree, from which it eats the seeds and fruit. This is the only parrot native to Carolina.
Printed Reproduction
The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands ...
Mark Catesby
Published: 1731-1743

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
  • L0035366 Land crab with Tapia trifolia plant, 1731
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Illustration showing a land crab (Cancer terrestris) feeding on Tapia trifolia fructu majore oblongo plant. This crab is abundant in the Bahama Islands.
Printed Reproduction
The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands ...
Mark Catesby
Published: 1731-1743

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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We are currently featuring Catesby’s original illustrations for Natural History of Florida, Carolina and the Bahama Islands in our Gallery Shop.

Catesby, who was raised and educated in Sudbury, showed a passion for natural history from a young age.  After his father died, leaving him a sufficient income, Catesby made extended trips to the east coast of North America from 1712, travelling to Virginia, Carolina, Florida and also to the West Indies.

At the time, there was a burgeoning garden culture in Britain, fuelled by the introduction of plant species from the Near East.  This ignited Catesby’s desire to produce a comprehensive study of the flora and fauna native to the eastern seaboard of North America.  He collected seeds, animals and botanical specimens during his travels and made detailed drawings along the way.

Catesby returned to England in 1726 and began work preparing the plates and text for his Natural History of Florida, Carolina and the Bahama Islands, the first major publication on the subject.  The Natural History was issued in parts between 1729 and 1747.

In 1768, George III purchased Catesby’s original watercolours for the Natural History and had them bound into a three-volume set of the publication (rather than the usual two), in the place of the printed illustrations.  In more recent times, the watercolours were removed from the volumes for conservation reasons and individually mounted.

 

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