Abstract Detail

Botanical History

Flannery, Maura [1].

Mark Catesby: Three Hundred Years in South Carolina.

The British naturalist and artist Mark Catesby arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1722 on his second trip to North America. He had earlier stayed in Virginia for seven years, but though his later visit was shorter, it was more structured and produced more tangible results. In four years, he explored the Carolinas before traveling to the Bahamas. He returned to England with zoological and botanical specimens, as well as watercolor sketches that he would work into his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Its two volumes included 120 engravings that communicated the rich diversity and beauty of North American flora and fauna.
In this presentation, I will concentrate on the botany Catesby recorded and how his legacy is being preserved in the Mark Catesby Centre at the University of South Carolina (UofSC), Columbia. The University has a stellar collection of Catesby materials, including all three editions of Natural History, a large collection of Catesby engravings, as well as his Hortus Europae Americanus of trees and shrubs that were suitable for planting in Britain. The latter was published posthumously and speaks to his involvement in the London nursery trade after he returned from his second trip. He needed to make a living while he prepared his publication. He quickly discovered that he would not able to afford the services of an engraver, so he learned the craft himself and became skilled in it. He also managed to interest wealthy patrons in his work. These included Hans Sloane and William Sherard who were among those who had financed his trip and were the recipients of his specimens and drawings.
The Catesby story cannot be told within a brief presentation, and in fact, it is not yet completely written. Present-day scholars, including several at UofSC, are continuing to study Catesby’s work and the plants that he encountered in his travels, documenting how they have fared in the centuries since his visit. The Centre is also working to make the Catesby story more accessible by digitizing the Natural History as well as the engravings and making them available online. In addition, the A.C. Moore Herbarium has digitized all its South Carolina plants, including many of the species that Catesby collected during his stay. These are accessible on the SERNEC portal. Efforts are also underway to find ways to link these University resources. One example stems from efforts to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Catesby’s arrival in the state. An exhibition was held that included volumes of the Natural History and the Hortus as well as selected engravings and other documents relevant to the Catesby story. Also displayed were herbarium specimens and other natural history materials. The exhibition was so extensive that it was presented in both the Hollings Special Collection Library and the McKissick Museum, which documents Southern culture and geography.

1 - 204 Bellewood Drive, Aiken, SC, 29803, United States

Mark Catesby
University of South Carolina Columbia.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: BH1004
Abstract ID:732
Candidate for Awards:None

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