Arachnids: Study towards 'British Insects'
Date Made/Found: 1790-1813
, Irish, 1768 - 1837
Material and Medium: watercolour and glaze on paper
Dimensions: Sight size: 379 x 315mm
Mount: 215 x 175mm
Accession Number: CGSG01141
This drawing of insects is a preliminary study towards book-plates in Donovan's book, 'The natural history of British insects explaining them in their several states, with the periods of their transformations, their food, oeconomy, &c. together with the history of such minute insects as require investigation by the microscope'.
Donovan published the book in 16 volumes between 1792 and 1813, and it contains 568 hand-coloured plates. These plates contain a number of insect studies, which Donovan would have painted directly from insect specimens. As well as writing the book and painting the preliminary illustrations, Donovan also made sure he had control over the final book illustrations by etching, engraving and hand colouring the plates himself.
According to Ruskin, Donovan's illustrations were of 'inestimable excellence'. He commended Donovan and other natural historians for their great devotion not only to their subject but for the ‘perfect artistic capacity’ they strove for in their book plates.