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Mark Catesby (1683-1749)
Plate 2.98 - Mountain Laurel
From The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands
London, 1731-44 (first edition);
Hand-colored copperplate engravings
Paper size: 20” x 14”; Framed: 24” x 20 1/2”
In 1712, the English-born artist and naturalist Mark Catesby embarked on a series of expeditions to the southern colonies of British North America. Enthralled by the wildlife of the New World, he spent years traveling by foot through parts of present-day Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas and the Bahamas. Over the course of his journeys, he encountered and documented uncountable varieties of animal and plant life that were entirely unknown to Europeans. His drawings and written observations were the raw material for an unprecedented project: a scientific account of previously uninvestigated wildlife, with illustrations taken from life. This remarkable study of American plants, animals, and marine life provided an important model for later artists, including John James Audubon, who followed in Catesby’s footsteps a century later. The works illustrated here are among the masterpieces of Catesby’s Natural History.