Purple Swallow

John Abbot (1757- ca.1840)

Published by Georgia, 1823
Condition: Good No Binding
From Arader Galleries San Francisco (San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.)

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John Abbot (1757- ca.1840) Watercolor for Birds of Georgia Georgia, circa 1823 Paper size: 12 ½" x 17 ½"; Framed size: 23" x 18" These striking and distinctive bird watercolors are of exceptional importance to the field of American natural history in general, and of Georgia wildlife in particular. John Abbot was born in London in 1751, the son of a lawyer who encouraged his early interest and talent for natural history, and who arranged for him to study drawing, perspective, and engraving under Jacob Bonneau. Abbot owned (and assiduously studied) the ornithological publications of Mark Catesby and George Edwards. Highly influenced by their styles, Abbot nonetheless forged a distinctive and accomplished manner that was entirely his own. In 1773, Abbot immigrated to America, bringing his burgeoning talents and interest in natural-history art first to Virginia, then to Georgia the following year. For the rest of his life, Abbot lived in Georgia - moving among Burke, Chatham, Scriven, and Bulloch counties - and devoted himself to illustrating the animal and plant life of that state. This series charmingly rendered ornithological watercolors have only recently come to light, having been rediscovered in England in the late 1980s. Each shows a bird perched on branches in a natural setting. Abbot inscribed each watercolor in red ink at the bottom of the sheet, identifying the bird species by its common name. Abbot’s birds have notable sense of vitality and character, transcending the ostensibly documentary aim of his task and elevating his work to embrace the often-conflicting goals of scientific illustration and art. Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price, the preeminent authority on Abbot, has examined these watercolors and believes that, stylistically and aesthetically, they rank among Abbot’s finest ornithological works. Abbot’s oeuvre has only recently been recognized and elevated to the rank of such better-known predecessors and contemporaries as Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, and John James Audubon. Very few of Abbot’s original works have been published or otherwise reproduced, and thus they were never popularized in the way that Catesby’s and Audubon’s illustrations were. The decisive role that Abbot played in the developing knowledge of American wildlife was first highlighted in 1983, when Vivian Rogers-Price mounted a seminal exhibition of his work in Madison, Georgia. She also wrote the accompanying catalog, which -- in tandem with the show itself -- made a profound impact on public awareness of Abbot’s great work, with its special importance for the state of Georgia and the American South. Rogers-Price wrote: “This exquisitely rendered vision of Georgia’s insect, bird, and plant life established Abbot as one of the premier naturalist artists of the nineteenth century. In his watercolors Abbot combined a talent for composition and design with the technical skill for capturing the textures of his subjects.” [“John Abbot in Georgia: The Vision of a Naturalist Artist,” Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, Madison, Georgia, 1983] Works by Abbot are located in such venerable public collections as the British Museum, the Houghton Library of Harvard University, Hargrett Library of the University of Georgia, and the Smithsonian Institution. These watercolors are remarkably beautiful, and is of signal importance in the field of American natural history painting. Bookseller Inventory # A00104c

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Purple Swallow

Publisher: Georgia

Publication Date: 1823

Binding: No Binding

Book Condition:Good

Signed: Inscribed by Illustrator(s)

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The world's largest selection of the works of John James Audubon, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, historically important maps, natural history engravings and watercolors, lithographs of the American West, Californiana, Hawaiiana and Western Americana. Located at 432 Jackson Street in Historic Jackson Square, San Francisco, and online at www.aradersf.com.

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