Mark Catesby, “Summer Duck,” circa 1722-26, watercolor and pencil on paper, Royal Collection Trust

In 1722, English artist, scientist, and explorer Mark Catesby landed in Charleston, South Carolina, to embark on an incredible journey that saw him document the birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals indigenous to the American colonies. Forty-four of Catesby’s paintings, on loan from the British Royal Collection, compose an exhibition currently on view here

For the first time, original watercolors by Mark Catesby will be on view in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Gibbes Museum of Art — nearly 300 years after the artist landed there to begin documenting New World animals. In fact, “Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas” is only the second time his watercolors have ever been on view in the United States.

On view through September 24, the show has brought together 44 of Catesby’s watercolors. “To underscore the significance of Catesby’s masterful paintings, the exhibition will also include a selection of watercolors created circa 1733 by George Edwards,” the museum writes. “Like his friend Mark Catesby, Edwards created precise watercolor renderings of birds. In many cases the two artists painted the same subject matter, including a bird particularly important to South Carolina, the now extinct Carolina Parakeet. Collected by John Drayton in 1733, rediscovered in 1969, and recently conserved, the Edwards paintings will be on loan from The Lenhardt Collection of George Edwards Watercolors at Drayton Hall, a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”

To learn more, visit The Gibbes Museum of Art.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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