Le petit Grimpereau
Mark Catesby (1682-1749) was born and educated in England, and was originally sent to Carolina by the Royal Society in 1722 as a botanist. From there he traveled to Florida and the Bahamas, returning to England in 1726 with a vast store of information on the wildlife he had observed. By the spring of 1729, he had completed the first part of The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (1734-1746), but it was not until 1746 that the work was finally finished. It became the earliest colored book on American birds.
George Edwards (1694-1773) was a contemporary of Mark Catesby. He was an ornithologist and bird illustrator who was heavily influenced by Catesby. Edwards is best known as the author of A Natural History, composed of two books: A Natural History of Uncommon Birds (1743-51) and Gleanings of Natural History (1758-1764). The plates that were contained within these works were valued for their landscape backgrounds, which were unusual at the time.
To satisfy the tremendous demand for both these landmark works, Johann Michael Seligmann, a German publisher, issued a nine-volume compilation of the works of Mark Catesby and George Edwards. Seligmann’s Sammlung Verschiedener Auslandischer und Selener Vogel (1749-1776) contained plates based on the images of Catesby and Edwards, adding German and French titles. In bringing these masterworks to a larger audience, Seligmann has earned himself a rightful place in natural history circles, and his charming prints, reflecting well on their sources, stand on their own as another respected source for 18th century natural history documentation.