Original watercolors created for the manuscript folio The Felidae. Cat Kind
Watercolor over graphite
Each numbered and annotated in pencil
Framed sizes: 15 measuring 27" x 24"; 2 measuring 24" x 27"
Provenance: H. Bradley Martin
A Collection of Stunning Nineteenth-Century British Watercolors of Cats
The expansion of trade and growing exploration of the world, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, brought about a growing interest in the exotic with wild animals being captured and returned to Europe as both objects of curiosity and scientific specimens. In Britain, the eminent doctor William Hunter led the way in the study of these animals, acquiring not only living specimens but also assembling a considerable collection of paintings. The field was also aided by the foundation of the Linnaean Society in 1788, named after the creator of the now universal system of nomenclature for plants and animals. This institution expressly encouraged ‘the cultivation of the Science of Natural History in all its branches.’ Interest extended beyond scientific study to the general public at large and a menagerie was established at Exeter Change in the Strand by Pidock, a trader in wild animals. This proved to be exceptionally popular with the London public and artists frequently used it as a source for their paintings and drawings. Publications also fed the public interest in the exotic and perhaps Samuel Howitt’s Oriental Field Sports, is the finest example of this kind.