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Mark Catesby (1682-1749)

The Yellow-throated Creeper, the Pine-Creeper and the Red Flowering Maple c.1722-6

Watercolour and bodycolour over pen and ink | 37.4 x 26.9 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 925897

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  • A watercolour of a pine warbler (bottom, Setophaga pinus (Linnaeus)) and a yellow-throated warbler (top, Setophaga dominica (Linnaeus)) on red maple (Acer rubrum L.). Inscribed at top left in ink: 'Grey Titmous with a Yellow Throat Parus Americanus unerius' and '61'. Inscribed in ink at top right: '62' and 'Yellow Throat Pine Creeper'. Inscribed at bottom left in ink: Pinecreeper Parus Americanus Lutescens'. Inscribed at bottom centre in pencil: 'p. 62' and 'pine Creeper'. Inscribed at bottom right in ink: 'Acer Virginianum folio majore subtus argentio, supra viridi spendente - - - Pluk: Alma.'

    Mark Catesby was born in Suffolk and was interested in natural history from an early age. In 1712, he travelled to the east coast of America with his sister Elizabeth, who had married a doctor who practised in Williamsburg, Virginia. Catesby spent seven years in Virginia collecting specimens and seeds for London buyers before returning to Britain. In London his drawings of birds and plants met with praise and a group of benefactors paid for his travel to Carolina in 1722. There, he made numerous drawings of the flora and fauna, working hard to ensure that his depictions were as helpful for an understanding of their subjects as possible. On his return to Britain, his drawings were reproduced in The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, which appeared in a series of volumes between 1729 and 1747. The first volume was dedicated to Queen Caroline, the second to Augusta, Princess of Wales. The original drawings from the volumes, which had been in the possession of Catesby’s widow until her death, were purchased by George III from the London bookseller Thomas Cadell in 1768.

    The watercolour was used as the basis for plates 61 and 62 in the first volume of the Natural History ('The Pine Creeper', and 'The Yellow-throated Creeper' and 'The Red Flowering Maple'). In the accompanying text, Catesby noted of the maple that 'They endure our English Climate as well as they do their native one; as appears by the many large ones in the garden of Mr. Bacon at Hoxton'

    For identification of the species depicted see James L. Reveal, 'Identification of the plants and animals illustrated by Mark Catesby for his Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands' in Phytoneuron 2013 and revised online version.

    Thomas Cadell; from whom bought by George III, 1768

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour and bodycolour over pen and ink


    37.4 x 26.9 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Other number(s)

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