White-cheeked pintail

    Date
    1731
    Creator
    Mark Catesby (1683 - 1749, British) , Naturalist
    Object type
    Library reference
    18894
    Material
    Technique
    Dimensions
    height (print): 265mm
    width (print): 355mm
    Subject
    Biology
       > Zoology
          > Ornithology
    Biology
       > Botany
    Biology
       > Natural history
    Content object
    nature
       > animal
          > bird
    Description
    Ornithological study of a white-cheeked pintail, Anas bahamensis, shown in right profile, in water. It is found in the Caribbean, South America, and the Galapagos Islands.

    Signed and inscribed below: ‘Chrysanthemum &c. Anas Bahamensis.’

    Written in the associated text: ‘These Birds frequent the Bahama Islands, but are not numerous, I never having seen but one, which was a Drake.’

    Plate 93 from volume I of Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, 1731). This was the first natural history book to use folio-sized colour plates. Catesby etched the copper plates himself before hand-colouring each individual print with watercolours.

    Mark Catesby (1683-1749), British naturalist was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1733.
    Object history
    The Natural History was originally published in 10 parts, intended to be bound in 2 volumes. It was the earliest western scientific description of the flora and fauna of North America, and its copper plates were etched and hand-coloured by Catesby himself.

    Catesby’s trips to North America were funded by a group of sponsors, many of whom were colonial governors, charged with managing the British Empire’s territories, and their support of Catesby’s research can be read as an exercise in colonial control. As The Natural History’s parts were issued it also became important as a reference text to naturalists attempting to order the natural world according to the ambitious taxonomic systems that characterized the mid-18th century.
    Associated place
    <The World>
       > North America
          > United States
    <The World>
       > North America
          > Bahamas
    Credit
    ©The Royal Society
    Image number
    RS.18628
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