Mark Catesby was born April 3, 1683 and was baptized in Castle Hedingtham, Essex. Catesby studied natural history in London before coming to Virginia in 1712.
Mark Catesby was an early naturalist from London who made two trips to America, once in 1712 and then later in 1722. While in America he traveled extensively throughout the low country, including Kiawah Island. He then took the specimens he collected back to England to begin his watercolors. He was later elected a member of the Royal society of London due to his two volume work “The Natural History of Carolinas, Florida and the Bahama Islands”
Catesby's Natural History of Carolina, Florida and The Bahamas was the first natural history of American flora and fauna. First issued between 1731 and 1743, this work would eventually include 220 prints, which for the first time systematically illustrated American birds, animals, and plants. It was not only the first fully-illustrated natural history of North America, preceding Audubon, but also a major contribution to both art and science.
Despite his broad body of work, Catesby had few publications which include, “The Natural History of the Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas Islands”. Catesby is considered one of the greatest naturalists of the eighteenth-century. Recently the film “The Curious Mr. Catesby” was previewed on Kiawah Island for the first time in the United States. The film is about the hand-colored drawing and watercolors of Mark Catesby and his studies in the Lowcountry. The Wells Gallery at the Sanctuary had a great opportunity to offer a diverse selection of the reproductions from Catesby’s original work. These unique prints were created by Alecto Historical Editions. The editions are limited to fifty complete sets, numbered 1/50 through 50/50, only 10 in each set released for public sale.