Rare John Abbot Watercolor

(British/Georgia, 1751-1840)

Summer Duck (Wood Duck), No. 98, circa 1790, Abbot notes: "Is 17 inches long, and 29 broad, some few builds here in holes in cypresses in ponds and swamps at considerable height from the ground, the old duck carry the young ones to the ground in her bill. If the young ones is taken and put in a pail or tub, they will readily climb out by the help of their bill & nails. Some few continue all the year but the number is very inconsiderable in comparison of the numbers that appear in the winter. This duck is well tasted", watercolor and graphite on laid paper affixed to Chetham Library's volume, bordered paper, original page 11-1/4 x 8-3/4 in., volume page 16-1/8 x 12 in.; gilt wood frame, 17 x 12-7/8 in.

Note: This work by John Abbot comes from a bound copy that was purchased by Chetham's Library (London) in 1792. John Francillon, the artist's agent, was able to sell large groups and single works of art that Abbot painted and drew over the course of his long career. The vast majority were sent to England where the art and science of classification were well established. Abbot's correspondence shows us that he was also sending specimens to collectors and societies of naturalists.  While John Abbot does not share the universal name recognition of his contemporaries, John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson, it is certainly not because he is a lesser talent nor was he any less enthusiastic about the flying and crawling creatures that were his primary subjects. He created his meticulous paintings and drawings for a devoted circle of collectors and produced thousands of works in his lifetime - often replicating those that were requested by more than one collector.  While volumes of his work were not published during his lifetime, Abbot was pivotal in disseminating information about the birds, moths and insects of his adopted landscape of Virginia and Georgia.  He was born and trained in England, but arrived on colonial shores on the eve of the Revolution in 1773 and made Georgia his home and remained until his death in 1840.

This lot is accompanied by copies of Abbot's notes, the receipt from Ibarcord Group Fine Arts and the text for the exhibition monograph, John Abbot of Georgia: The Vision of a Naturalist Artist (1751-Circa 1840), Madison Morgan Cultural Center, Madison, Georgia, September 25-December 31, 1983, and the Christie's New York, October 1, 1980 catalog.

See: The Houghton Library at Harvard University for an almost identical version used as the cover illustration for Abbot, John, and Vivian Rogers-Price. John Abbot's Birds of Georgia: Selected Drawings from the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Savannah: Library of Georgia, 1997.

Provenance:Collection of artist; John Leigh Philips, 1761-1814, Manchester; John Radcliffe, a proprietor and librarian of Chetham Library; Chetham Library, Manchester; Christie's, New York, October 1, 1980, (four volumes), lot 127; Andrew Crawley, Director, Ibarcord Group Fine Arts (accompanied by the original receipt); The Estate of William N. Banks, Jr., Newnan, Georgia


some handling grime, light foxing in water, glue tacked to album page (circa 1792), album page with toning; frame with abrasions

Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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