Illuminating Natural History: The Art And Science Of Mark Catesby

New York | Friday, April 15th 2022 at 6 pm

Join us for a talk and book signing with celebrated curator and art historian

Henrietta McBurney

at Arader Galleries,
1016 Madison Avenue, New York City

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McBurney will discuss the art and influences of Mark Catesby detailed in her latest book, Illuminating Natural History: The Art and Science of Mark Catesby.

"[The] definitive study of Catesby's life and art. . . . Gorgeous. . . . Accessible. . . . Ms. McBurney's book perfectly matches its multifaceted subject, offering us nothing less than a natural history of Catesby's remarkable imagination." Christoph Irmscher, Wall Street Journal


The Author

Henrietta McBurney is a freelance curator and art historian. She has written extensively on early natural history illustration, material culture, the history of collections, and portraiture. Her publications include studies on the florilegium of Alexander Marshal and the natural history drawings for Cassiano dal Pozzo's Paper Museum. She has curated art collections at the Royal Library Windsor Castle; Eton College, Windsor; the Garrick Club, London; and Newnham College, Cambridge.

The Book

"The life and art of the 18th-century naturalist Mark Catesby, and his pioneering work depicting the flora and fauna of North America, are explored in vibrant detail.

This book explores the life and work of the celebrated eighteenth-century English naturalist, explorer, artist and author Mark Catesby (1683-1749). During Catesby's lifetime, science was poised to shift from a world of amateur virtuosi to one of professional experts. Working against a backdrop of global travel that incorporated collecting and direct observation of nature, Catesby spent two prolonged periods in the New World - in Virginia (1712-19) and South Carolina and the Bahamas (1722-6). In his majestic two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1731-43), esteemed by his contemporary John Bartram as 'an ornament for the finest library in the world', he reflected the excitement, drama and beauty of the natural world. Interweaving elements of art history, history of science, natural history illustration, painting materials, book history, paper studies, garden history and colonial history, this meticulously researched volume brings together a wealth of unpublished images as well as newly discovered letters by Catesby, which, with their first-hand accounts of his collecting and encounters in the wild, bring the story of this extraordinary pioneer naturalist vividly to life."

Yale University Press