22 March 2000
Eleazar Albin (fl.1713-1759)
Four signed original watercolour and gouache drawings of moths, [1712?]. Broadsheet (477 x 340mm). 4 original drawings of 4 species of moth, each drawing showing recto and verso of the adult form, the caterpillar on its food plant and the pupal stage, the first drawing also including a second caterpillar from another species, each sheet signed in ink along lower margin and with indistinct numbering in ink on the verso. (Small repaired marginal tears to three leaves.) 20th-century cloth, red label on upper cover.
The subjects of the drawings are as follows:
1. Eyed Hawkmoth (Smerinthus ocellata) with the caterpillar of another unidentied Hawkmoth. Signed "Eleazar Albin Del."
2. Death's-head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos). Signed "E. Albin". (15mm. tear to lower blank margin).
3. Puss Moth (Cerura vinula). Signed "Eleazar: Albin: Del:". (Two 15mm. tears to outer blank margin).
4. Buff-tip (Phalera bucephala). Signed "E. Albin" (Lower margin shaved affecting signature, two 10mm. tears to lower blank margin.)
"Very little seems to be recorded concerning the background of Eleazar Albin and the exact dates of his birth and death are not known.. [but] he was probably born about 1690. The only account of Albin, a short one, is that given by himself in the preface of the Natural History of English Insects. Here he states that his profession was the teaching of drawing and painting and that as the various forms and colours of flowers and insects gave him great pleasure a deep interest developed which led him to study them more closely... In the preface [to his...English Insects] Albin explains that several prominent society patrons, who were obviously keenly interested in entomology, employed him to prepare drawings of butterflies, moths and larvae which they had collected... Two volumes of these original drawings, one in my own library and the other also in private hands, are the only examples I have seen... The coloured drawings in one volume illustrate the insects in all stages whereas the other is devoted exclusively to the larvae of the lepidoptera... several of the drawings in both volumes are signed 'Albin Fecit 1712'... This date gives a clue to the period when Albin was employed by his patrons, but it was not until eight years later that the first edition of his Natural History of English Insects was published." (Lisney. A Bibliography of British Lepidoptera 1960 pp.77-78).
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