Capturing Nature: The Insect World in Art explores the naturalist illustrations of four artists who were active in the 18th century: John Abbot, Mark Catesby, Moses Harris and Maria Sibylla Merian. These artists set out to capture the living world and render it large, beautiful and in vivid color. As demonstrated by the twelve prints on display, insects feature prominently in early naturalists’ renderings of botanical and animal wildlife in Europe and the Americas. Each of these artists approached the theme of the insect world as a subject worthy of an artist’s focus. Minute details of shape, color, posture and behavior have been captured so faithfully that the insect species can be identified. Although conceived as scientific illustrations, these prints aren’t just anatomical studies. Rather, they depict the insects in their relationships with other elements of their landscapes: plump caterpillars grazing on leaves or curled into camouflaged cocoons while adults of the same species feed on the nectar of colorful flowers. These lively illustrations are complemented by a display of various insect specimens on loan from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida.

Capturing Nature is curated by Andrea Lucky, faculty in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and is made possible by The Dr. Madelyn M. Lockhart Endowment for Focus Exhibitions at the Harn Museum of Art.

Ichneumon Fly by Mark Catesby
Plate 18 by Maria Sibylla Merian