OPEN

Artist Spotlight: Mark Catesby (1683–1749)

In conjunction with the 300th anniversary of Mark Catesby’s first voyage to the New World, the Gibbes is hosting a special exhibition of Catesby’s prints and two rare bound volumes of his work. This British-born artist, scientist, and explorer, set sail for the American Colonies for the first time in 1712. During his seven year stay, Catesby began studies of the natural world that would occupy the rest of his life. He traveled through parts of the Appalachian Mountains and to Jamaica collecting botanical samples and making sketches of American flora and fauna. His discoveries impressed the scientists of his day and after Catesby returned to England in 1719, London’s Royal Society—then led by Sir Isaac Newton—reviewed his findings and raised funds for Catesby to return to the Colonies for further study.

Catesby made his second voyage to British North America in 1722. This time, his port of arrival was Charleston. This four year sojourn, which allowed Catesby to explore and document the natural habitats of the Carolinas, Florida, and the Bahamas, ultimately resulted in the first major work on New World botanical and animal life, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Catesby personally translated his original watercolor paintings into the 220 engraving plates of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals that illustrate his monumental, two-volume study—a process that took him nearly twenty years. Accompanying the plates, are Catesby’s descriptions of the plants and animals as well as the soils, climate, agriculture, and Native Americans that he observed during his journeys.

Though Catesby considered himself a scientist first and an artist second, his lively depictions of animal and plant life are considered masterful works of art and his meticulous observations served as the foundation for the work of other significant scientists and artists including Carl Linnaeus and John James Audubon.

This special exhibition featuring rarely seen works from both private and public collections will be on view until January 30, 2013.

Sara Arnold, Curator of Collections, Gibbes Museum of Art

Related Content

Gibbes Museum in the News: July 15 – August 19

The Gibbes was featured in a blog post by Gal Meets Glam (UMV: 408,728), a prominent lifestyle and fashion blogger who featured her recent trip to the Charleston on her…

READ MORE

1858 Prize Finalist: Toyin Ojih Odutola

“Identity is often varying, suspect, and ever-changing,” shares Toyin Ojih Odutola, a visual artist and 1858 Prize finalist. Odutola’s body of work depicts black portraiture with a variety of media—ballpoint…

READ MORE

1858 Prize Finalist: Jiha Moon

“Why [do] people love foreign stuff so much?” questions Jiha Moon, Korean-born painter and Society 1858 Prize Finalist. Perhaps it is the allure of unfamiliar beauty, the mystique of unknown…

READ MORE

Guggenheim Modern Art Exhibition Returns to Charleston, S.C. after 80 Years

Iconic exhibition revisits its original host with masterworks from the Guggenheim collection CHARLESTON, S.C., August 8, 2016 – Charleston is home to many firsts, but it’s a little-known fact that…

READ MORE