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George Edwards Watercolors at the Gibbes

Collections, George Edwards Watercolors, Press, Sarah Stroud Clarke

George Edwards WatercolorsSummer is the perfect time to relax and engage in a little bird watching. You won’t be able to catch a view of this now-extinct Carolina Parrot or Parakeet in the wild, but you can catch it on view this summer at The Gibbes Museum of Art as part of the exhibit: Artist, Scientist, Explorer: Mark Catesby in the Carolinas until September 24, 2017.

In 1722, Catesby arrived in Charleston and traveled throughout South Carolina and beyond documenting birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals indigenous to the American colonies. The exhibit of Catesby’s work is enhanced by the addition of watercolors created circa 1733 by George Edwards (1694–1773). Like his friend Mark Catesby, Edwards created precise watercolor renderings of birds. In many cases the two artists painted the same subject matter, including a bird particularly important to South Carolina, the now-extinct Carolina Parakeet.

What is significant about these watercolors is that they were completed ten years before the publication of the first printed volume of Edwards’ A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743) and are the oldest of their type to survive in North America.

Essential to the production of Edwards’ published works was monetary support gained through subscriptions, and John Drayton was the only North American subscriber to Edwards’ first volume.

John Drayton collected Edwards’ work in 1733. Over 200 years later, Drayton’s portfolio of 48 watercolors was discovered in 1969 in the attic of Charlotta Drayton’s (1884-1969) downtown home.

Twenty one of the original works now comprise The Lenhardt Collection of George Edwards Watercolors at Drayton Hall.

After your visit to the Gibbes, we welcome you to plan a trip to Drayton Hall this summer to visit John Drayton’s architectural masterpiece and do a little bird watching yourself.

Above: This c. 1733 watercolor painting is one of 48 works acquired by John Drayton (c.1715-1779), painted by the father of British ornithology, George Edwards (1694-1733).

Preservation Magazine has a feature in their summer issue about the Edwards Watercolors, too.
Read more here.