Tag Archive

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes | The Corn Snake

by Peter Ingle

THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL SNAKE. It is so colorful and bright and well painted that you almost forget it’s a snake. Almost. One thing that makes you not forget is its characteristic way of moving in a series of long, muscular loops, which Catesby has captured perfectly. There is something particular about how snakes... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes | The Wild Pine and Locusta Caroliniana

by Peter Ingle

A LARGE PART of Mark Catesby’s appeal is how his watercolors reveal and revel in the majesty of Nature. This is especially true of his paintings of flora which are typically brimming with life and movement. This simple rendering of a wild pine also shows how much Catesby was fascinated with the structural engineering... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes | The Chatterer and the Magnolia

by Peter Ingle

THE CHATTERER, with its dynamic mask and bristly tuft of hair, is front and center in this composition, but the Magnolia steals the show. It’s one of the few instances (in this exhibit) where Catesby combined fauna and flora and shined the brightest light on the latter. Despite the bird being beautifully painted in... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes | The Parrot of Carolina

by Peter Ingle

CATESBY OBVIOUSLY had a fond admiration for this “Small Parrot” of Carolina, which may be why this watercolor wins the prize for best combination of most beautiful and most pleasing to look at in this exhibit. But, why is it so satisfying? Why does it immediately make you happy? With Catesby, of course, there’s always... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes | Ivory-billed woodpecker

by Peter Ingle

THIS GORGEOUS PORTRAIT of an ivory-billed woodpecker (now on display at the Gibbes) is one of the most compelling pieces in this exhibit. One reason for that may be because it is equally powerful and perplexing. Its power derives partly from the bird’s size, which dominates the full height and nearly half the width... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes — the Black Snake

by Peter Ingle

THIS WATERCOLOR stands out in several ways. One way is how Catesby has the snake itself “standing” out, as though it has lifted one quarter of its body into the air—which I have never seen a black snake do in quite this manner. It could be that this was Catesby’s way of bringing to life... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes — The Blue Jay and the Bay-Leaved Smilax

by Peter Ingle

THE BLUE JAY is a bothersome bird. It’s noisy and aggressive, and even known to rob eggs from other birds’ nests. And once again, Catesby has beautifully captured not just the species but its personality. In this watercolor, he portrays the jay leaning down, pressing forward, and screeching, with its furry crown tossed back, its tongue extended, and... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes — The Porgy

by Peter Ingle

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I usually find it hard looking at pictures of fish. The one on top here had also received a lot of press during promotion for the Gibbes exhibit, so I thought I had had enough of it. As I prowled the paintings, I could feel my reluctance to give it much time.... Read »

Mark Catesby at the Gibbes — the Ghost Crab and a Spider

by Peter Ingle

THIS DOUBLE STUDY of a crab and spider holds more than double fascination. It shows how Catesby observed as a scientist and how he worked as an artist. It also demonstrates two distinct approaches to watercolor design. And it beautifully compares two creatures with juxtaposing views of one from the front and one from above. Something... Read »

Mark Catesby at The Gibbes — The Little Owl

by Peter Ingle

NO KNOWN PORTRAITS of English naturalist Mark Catesby (1682–1749) exist, but if you look carefully you’ll see him in each of the watercolors and etchings now on exhibit at the Gibbes. If a portrait of Catesby is ever found, I also suspect it will resemble this exquisite rendering of an owl—which you may find watching you as you... Read »

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