Mark Your Calendar for This Catesby Exhibit

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The Carolina Parakeet (detail) by Mark Catesby

The Carolina Parakeet (detail) by Mark Catesby

THE GIBBES MUSEUM OF ART will present a special exhibition of works by Mark Catesby titled Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas. The exhibition will run from May 12 – September 24 and will feature 44 watercolors by English artist, scientist, and explorer Mark Catesby, generously lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the British Royal Collection.

Catesby arrived in Charleston in 1722 and for four years traveled throughout South Carolina and beyond as he documented birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals indigenous to the American colonies. Catesby’s journey resulted in a series of exquisite watercolors which reflect the natural habitats of the Carolinas, Florida, and the Bahamas, and which ultimately brought to life the first major illustrated work on the botanical and animal life of North America, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Catesby’s original watercolors were bought by King George III in 1768.

“The Carolinas, and particularly the city of Charleston, is a significant location in the fascinating story of Catesby’s life and work,” said Angela Mack, Executive Director of the Gibbes. “We are honored to host this special exhibition and provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring Catesby’s original watercolor paintings to the very location that inspired their creation.”

Porgy by Mark Catesby

Porgy by Mark Catesby

David Elliott, Executive Director of the Catesby Commemorative Trust (this site is worth a visit to learn more about Catesby and the Trust’s award-winning book, The Curious Mister Catesby), added that “These watercolors are usually housed in the climate controlled conditions of the Print Room at Windsor Castle, and this exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to see them in a new context.”

The exhibit will also include watercolors created circa 1733 by Catesby’s friend George Edwards, a fellow artist who created precise renderings of birds. Collected by John Drayton in 1733, rediscovered in 1969, and recently conserved, the Edwards’s paintings will be on loan from The Lenhardt Collection of George Edwards Watercolors at Drayton Hall.

“This exhibition marks the first showing of Catesby’s original watercolors in Charleston, and only the second exhibition of his watercolors in the United States,” said Jonathan Marsden, Director, Royal Collection Trust. “On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, we are delighted to share this selection of Catesby’s most treasured watercolors with the Charleston community.”

Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas is being made possible through the vision and financial support of the Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation.

Acknowledgments: the text above was adapted from the original Gibbes Museum of Art press release.

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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe