From Windsor Castle to Charleston, the Gibbes Museum of Art Announces New Exhibition with Works from The Royal Collection
“Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas” returns to birthplace of inspiration with watercolors depicting natural habitats of Lowcountry and beyond
CHARLESTON, S.C. March 9, 2017 – Today the Gibbes Museum of Art announced a new special exhibition opening at the Gibbes this spring with works by Mark Catesby titled Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas. The show, which runs from May 12 – September 24, 2017, features 44 watercolor paintings by English artist, scientist and explorer Mark Catesby generously lent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the British Royal Collection.
“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.”
Catesby arrived in Charleston in 1722 and for four years traveled throughout South Carolina and beyond documenting birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects and mammals indigenous to the American colonies. Catesby’s journey resulted in a series of beautiful watercolors that reflect the natural habitats of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas, 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.
“These watercolors are usually housed in the climate-controlled conditions of the Print Room at Windsor Castle, and so this exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity to see them in a new context” said David Elliott, Executive Director of the Catesby Commemorative Trust. “These vivid images represent not just the fruition of Catesby’s work in North America, but also the foundation of Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, described by a knowledgeable contemporary as ‘the most magnificent work I know of, since the Art of Printing has been discover’d.’”
“Mark Catesby set the stage for three centuries of natural history exploration, and subsequently, for conservation, with his grand opus, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands,” said Gilbert Butler of the Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation. “His beautiful renderings exposed European and American audiences to a new and exotic biota in the southeastern United States. We are pleased to be able to support this exhibition of Catesby’s original watercolors at the Gibbes, where 35 of the watercolors are being exhibited for the first time in the United States.”
Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas will also include watercolors created circa 1733 by Catesby’s friend George Edwards, a fellow artist who created precise renderings of birds. In many cases, the two artists painted the same subject, including 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.
“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 made possible through the vision and financial support of the Gilbert & Ildiko Butler Family Foundation.
For images of the exhibit, please contact Hannah Nuccio.
To learn more about this exhibition or to purchase tickets, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.
About the Gibbes Museum of Art
Home to the Carolina Art Association, established in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art is recognized among the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Housing one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present, the museum’s mission is to enhance lives through art by engaging people of every background and experience with art and artists of enduring quality and by providing opportunities to learn, to discover, to enjoy, and to be inspired by the creative process. For more information, visit www.gibbesmuseum.org.
Royal Collection Trust
Royal Collection Trust, a department of the Royal Household, is responsible for the care of the Royal Collection and manages the public opening of the official residences of The Queen. Income generated from admissions and from associated commercial activities contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes. Royal Collection Trust’s work is undertaken without public funding of any kind.
The Royal Collection
The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.
At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions. Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts.
Explore the Royal Collection at www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection
Lou Hammond Group
Top image: The Parrot of Carolina and the Cypress of America, ca. 1722–1726, by Mark Catesby (British, 1682–1749); watercolor, bodycolor, and pen and ink; Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017