While he’s often overshadowed by the legacies of John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson, Catesby was a pioneer in illustrating the birds of America and portraying them with flora from their environment. His work gave the world its first glimpse of wild America’s unique avifauna—its “painted finches, Carolina parrots, and red birds”.
For an upcoming show entitled “Hinterlands” at the Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth New Hampshire, I chose to pay tribute to Mark Catesby’s travels through the early American hinterlands. The paintings below are my personal take on three of Catesby’s original compositions. The show opens on April 6th and runs through April 29th.
“Hinterland” is a German word meaning the “land behind”. In English we’ve adopted the word to mean the unknown, the frontier, or a remote region. It’s a term we might use to describe Alaska or the space behind our refrigerator, but it’s certainly not a word we would use for the booming metropolis of Orlando—the theme park capital of the world. However, in the early 1700s when British naturalist Mark Catesby embarked on his travels through the American south, Orlando was still an unsettled pine wilderness (and would remain that way for another century).