George Edwards (English, 1694-1773). Watercolor on paper, housed in a gilt frame. A watercolor of a ricebird, also known as bobolink, unsigned, with inscription J. S. (for Hans "James" Sloane) u.l.; 10 x 8.75 in. (sheet).
George Edwards was an important naturalist and ornithologist, known as the "father of British ornithology". He was appointed Librarian to the Royal College of Physicians by his friend Hans Sloane, whose collection served as the foundation of the British Museum, and served in this position of 36 years. He is the author of several volumes on ornithology and natural history, including A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743) and Gleanings of Natural History (1760s).
The ricebird depicted in this watercolor is native to North America. The name originates from the bird's habit of feeding from rice fields in South Carolina and the Gulf states. Rice became an important commodity in the region at the end of the 17th century, when a ship from Africa transporting rice made a stop in Charleston for a repair, until its production started to decline after the Civil War. George Edwards never visited America, so he most likely painted this bird from a specimen sent to Europe, as was the custom for most European ornithologists at the time. Edwards also maintained a solid friendship with Mark Catesby, who did spend time in America and produced a two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas Islands. Therefore, Edwards may have worked from a report by Catesby.
Provenance:Ex Sumpter Priddy III, Inc. Property from the Collection of Dr. M. Donald Hayes. To Be Sold Without Reserve.
Some toning and stained spots.
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