Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Art

First Advisor

Andrew Graciano

Abstract

The Ethelind Pope Brown collection at the Irvin Department of Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of South Carolina contains thirty-two gouache paintings of south-eastern North American flora and fauna from the eighteenth century. Colonel John Laurens, a native South Carolinian from the eighteenth century, is the decided artist for the collection after appraisers and scholars confirmed that the works were painted by a local amateur artist. Historians respect Laurens for his abolitionist ideologies and his status as an officer under George Washington’s service, but his accomplishment as an amateur naturalist artist is not as well documented. From early childhood, Laurens developed an interest in natural history and drawing, later combing the two passions to record his own observations of American south-eastern flowers and birds. Laurens’s approach follows the biological illustration tradition of sketching and painting scientific studies of natural specimens, yet still composing the images to be aesthetically pleasing. Within this paper there will be an introduction section discussing the historical context, Laurens’s background and artistic influences, and the reasoning behind his artistic attribution to this collection, followed by a catalog section of visual analysis for all thirty-two illustrations.

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