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Catesby in America and at Buckingham Palace


There were a number of challenges that Mark Catesby had to meet, and any one of them might have proved too difficult - exploring the American wilderness and spending hours and days absolutely still, watching; learning to speak with the Indians so they could teach him what they knew; teaching himself how to capture on paper with watercolours the birds and animals and reptiles he saw before they vanished (he refused to paint them dead); and raising enough money to sail to America from Britain - in 1712 - in the first place. Learning how to etch big book plates came later. Finally completed in 1747, his Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands was the first major illustrated publication on the flora and fauna of Britain's American colonies.

We have more about Catesby here.

His "sumptous welding of botany and zoology" (John Stilgoe, Harvard) is currently on display in the exhibit Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery at Buckingham Palace.