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Mark Catesby Engraving - "Blue Winged Shoveler" - 1771

Mark Catesby (British, 1683-1749), "Blue Winged Shoveler", a hand colored, original, copper plate engraving on fine laid paper, from "The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands"; printed in London for Benjamin White, 1771 (Third Edition). A beautiful and scientifically accurate original engraving of the Blue Winged Shoveler (Anas clypeata foemina) - also known as the spoonbill and the northern shoveler - from Catesby's "The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands" - one of the most famous color-plate books illustrating American plant and animal life forms, an original work for the study of various American species. An important work on paper from the most impressive illustrated study of natural history created during the colonial period of America. Indeed many regard Catesby's work as the most significant work of American natural history prior to Audubon's "Birds of America"! Size: sheet measures 20.375" L x 14" W (51.8 cm x 35.6 cm); plate measures 13.75" L x 10.5" W (34.9 cm x 26.7 cm); 21.5" L x 18" W (54.6 cm x 45.7 cm) with mat

The Blue Winged Shoveler (Anas clypeata foemina) - also referred to as spoonbill and the northern shoveler - is oftentimes found in Virginia as well as the Carolinas during the winter months. Its characteristic spatula-shaped bill makes it possible to feed on tiny aquatic flora and fauna, both at the top of the water's surface and below. Catesby, in his accompanying text for this image wrote, "(i)ts bill is three inches long, coal black (though this is of a reddish brown, spotted with black) much broader toward the tip than at the base, excavated like a buckler, of a round circumference. At the end it hath a small crooked hook or nail; each mandible is pectinated or toothed like a comb, with rays or thin plates inserted mutually one into another, when the bill is shut…"

Catesby trained as a botanist, and in 1712 traveled to Virginia where he resided for seven years, all the while sending collections of seeds and plants to London. Encouraged by Sir Hans Sloane and other experts, Catesby returned to America in 1722 where he travelled extensively throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and the Bahamas, gathering specimens for his "Natural History". In the preface of his book, Catesby describes his process, including his important decision to study with Joseph Groupy so that he could learn how to engrave his plates in order to guarantee accuracy.

Condition: Loss and small tears to corners and edges of margins as shown, but these do not interfere with the engraved image. Normal toning to paper and a few minor foxing spots. Strong plate mark. Comes with green mat, but is not attached to mat and can easily be removed.

Provenance: private Lucille Lucas collection, Crested Butte, Colorado, USA

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