Eleazar Albin


A Natural History of English Insects

Eleazar Albin, a German trained painter, was a well-established teacher of watercolour painting in England when he met the great British naturalist Joseph Dandridge. It is probable that this meeting led to Albin cultivating the interest of wealthy patrons such as Sir Hans Sloane to record their collections. His reputation and connections grew to such that his first publication eventually attracted over 170 subscribers.

A Natural History of English Insects contained 100 copper plates in black and white, which could be hand coloured at request for an additional charge. Many plates were coloured by his daughter Elizabeth, the first English women recorded as a painter and delineator of birds. First issued in 1720, Albin’s work appeared at a time when the pervasive attitude had been that the study of insects was not a matter for serious scientific interest. Albin stressed that the insects depicted were copied ‘exactly after the Life’ as the artists who had preceded him failed to observe carefully or excercised extreme artistic license rendering the images in either instant without scientific merit.

Albin’s great care and consideration in the faithful rendering of his subjects was instrumental in encouraging a serious study of natural history amongst the educated classes in England and in continental Europe. A Natural History of English Insects is considered one of the most important works, and Albin one of the greatest artists, of 18th century entomology.

Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of original antique Albin engravings available,  please do contact us.