Sprague’s Natural History

The images below are watercolour sketches by Isaac Sprague from the 1840s.
They have all been background spot-cleaned to varying extents.



“A single kingfisher is depicted perched on a bare branch”

Connecticut warbler

Connecticut Warbler

“The single bird is depicted perched on a flowering branch of witch hazel”



“The chipmunk is perched on an ear of corn.
The date is written in graphite below the chipmunk’s tail.”

watercolour sketch of black cherry branch

Prunus serotina

“A branch of the black cherry tree is depicted with seven leaves in autumn color”

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

“The sparrow is perched on a flowering branch which also holds a nest
containing four blue-green eggs. The background is a deep brown.”

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

“The goldfinch is perched on a stalk of chicory”

Screech owl - red owl

Screed Owl – Red Owl

“A single owl is depicted perched on a branch
holding a rodent with the claws of its right foot”

Six bird's eggs

Six Bird’s Eggs



“Two details of witherod (Viburnum cassinoides), a
shrub also known as wild raisin. One detail of the
leaves and flower, another of the leaves and fruit.”

natural history watercolour sketch

Snow Bunting

“Two snow buntings are depicted, one on the ground and another in flight”

bird sketch by Isaac Sprague

Pine Grosbeak

“A male and female grosbeak are depicted on pine bough”

19th c. watercolour sketch of woodpecker

Golden Winged Woodpecker

“A single bird is shown perched on a bare branch.

‘Golden winged woodpecker’ and the date are inscribed
in graphite at the bottom of the sheet below the image.
The bird depicted is now known as the yellow-shafted flicker”

Black throated green warbler

Black Throated Green Warbler

“A single male bird is depicted on a branch of red maple with seeds”

bird illustration

Cat Bird

“A single bird is depicted perched on a branch.
Virginia creeper in fall color is twisted around the branch”

Massachussets ornithology

Cedar Waxwing

“The cedar waxwing is depicted perched on a branch
of chokecherry. There are no notations on the sheet”

“Isaac Sprague (1811–1895) was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, and apprenticed with his uncle as a carriage painter. He was a self-taught landscape, botanical and ornithological painter. Sprague served as one of the assistants to John James Audubon on an ornithological expedition up the Missouri River (1843), taking measurements and making sketches. His diary of this expedition is in the Boston Athenæum.” [source]

“The Athenæum is fortunate to have seventy-four of Sprague’s watercolor paintings of birds, drawn between 1839 and 1842.” [source]

(Via BibliOdyssey)

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