Johann Michael Seligmann(1720-1762) The Pigeon of Passage

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Johann Michael Seligmann(1720-1762)

From; Sammlung Verschiedener Auslandischer und Selener Vogel

Nuremberg: 1749-76

Hand-colored copperplate engravings after George Edwards and Mark Catesby 

Mark Catesby (1682-1749) was born and educated in England, and was originally sent to Carolina by the Royal Society in1722 as a botanist. From there he traveled to Florida and the Bahamas, returning to England in 1726 with a vast store ofinformation on the wildlife he had observed. By the spring of 1729, he had completed the first part ofThe Natural History ofCarolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands(1734-1746), but it was not until 1746 that the work was finally finished. It becamethe earliest colored book on American birds.George Edwards (1694-1773) was a contemporary of Mark Catesby. He was an ornithologist and bird illustrator who was heav-ily influenced by Catesby. Edwards is best known as the author ofA Natural History, composed of two books:A Natural Historyof Uncommon Birds(1743-51) andGleanings of Natural History(1758-1764). The plates that were contained within these workswere valued for their landscape backgrounds, which were unusual at the time.To satisfy the tremendous demand for both these landmark works, Johann Michael Seligmann, a German publisher, issueda nine-volume compilation of the works of Mark Catesby and George Edwards. Seligmann’sSammlung VerschiedenerAuslandischer und Selener Vogel(1749-1776) contained plates based on the images of Catesby and Edwards, adding German andFrench titles. In bringing these masterworks to a larger audience, Seligmann has earned himself a rightful place in naturalhistory circles, and his charming prints, reflecting well on their sources, stand on their own as another respected source for18th century natural history documentation.