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Margaret Cavendish Bentinck [Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785) by Joseph Brown, pubd 1861 (after Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bentinck, Margaret Cavendish [née Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785), collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences, was born on 11 February 1715 in London, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, later second earl of Oxford...

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Bolton, James (bap. 1735, d. 1799), natural history artist and mycologist, was baptized on 23 November 1735; he was probably born on a farm in the Calder valley, Yorkshire. He was the younger son of a weaver, William Bolton (or Boulton). His elder brother, ...

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Davidson, Thomas (1817–1885), natural history artist and palaeontologist, was born in Edinburgh on 17 May 1817, the eldest of the three children of William Davidson, the wealthy owner of Muirhouse and other Midlothian estates, and his wife, Jane, daughter of Alexander Horsebrugh of ...

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Donovan, Edward (1768–1837), natural historian and artist, is of obscure origin and little is known of his early life and education. His interest in natural history started with the collecting of shells and preservation of insects, probably before 1788. He was a prolific author and skilled artist who etched and engraved the plates for all his works. He became a fellow of the ...

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Hawkins, Benjamin Waterhouse (1807–1894), natural history artist and sculptor, was born on 8 February 1807 in Devonshire Street, London, the son of Thomas Hawkins (1777/8–1811), artist, and his wife, Louisa Anna (b. 1781/2), daughter of William Waterhouse, plantation owner in Jamaica. Educated at ...

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Impey [née Reade], Mary, Lady Impey (1749–1818), natural historian and patron of the arts, was born on 2 March 1749, the daughter of Sir John Reade (1721–1773) of Shipton Court, Oxfordshire, and his wife, Harriet, née Barker (d. 1811). She was the eldest of three children—the others, ...

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Lister [married name Knowler], Susanna (bap. 1670, d. 1738), natural history illustrator, and her sister Anne Lister (1671–1695x1704), who worked with her, were the first and second of the eight children of Martin Lister (bap. 1639, d. 1712), physician and naturalist, and his wife, ...

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Martyn, Thomas (fl. 1779–1811), natural history illustrator and pamphleteer, was said to be a native of Coventry, Warwickshire (Nichols, 8.432). Martyn developed a talent for coloured depictions of insects and shells. He purchased shells brought back from Cook's third voyage, although, as he wrote to ...

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Parkinson, Sydney (d. 1771), natural history artist, was born in Edinburgh, one of three children and the younger son of Joel Parkinson, a brewer and leading Quaker of that city, and his wife, Elizabeth (c.1700–1771). His birth year is uncertain: 1745, the traditional estimate, is twelve years after his brother's and by then his mother was in her mid-forties, so it appears suspect....

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Sydney Parkinson (d. 1771) by James Newton, pubd 1773 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Reeves, John (1774–1856), natural history collector and artist, was born on 1 May 1774, the youngest son of the Revd Jonathan Reeves of West Ham, Essex. Left an orphan at an early age, he was educated at Christ's Hospital and afterwards entered the counting house of a tea broker. He joined the ...

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John Reeves (1774–1856) by George Chinnery, 1826–31 © Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

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Sowerby, James (1757–1822), natural history artist, publisher, and collector, was born on 21 March 1757, at 2 Bolt-in-Tun Passage, Fleet Street, London, the son of John Sowerby (1719–1766), a lapidary, and his wife, Arabella Goodreed (1725–1782). He was educated at a day school, where he often made models during his lessons that he could sell. When he was fourteen friends provided ...

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James Sowerby (1757–1822) by J. C. Edwards (after Thomas Heaphy, 1816) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Stewart, James Hope (1789–1856), factor and natural history illustrator, was born at Hillside, Dryfesdale, Dumfriesshire, on 2 August 1789, the son of William Stewart of Hillhead (1743/4–1822) and Margaret Graham (c.1767/8–1853), daughter of George Graham of Shaw. About 1816 Stewart married ...