Mark Catesby
(England, ca. 1682–1749)
Numenius albus, 1731–1734
London, England
Engraving with hand coloring
Lent by the Chipstone Foundation,


Mark Catesby’s plate of the Numenius albus, or white ibis, reveals his use of artistic license. In reality, the white ibis is a large bird that stands over two feet tall. On the other hand, the leaves of the golden club, the native aquatic plant that Catesby shows behind the ibis, generally are only six to twelve inches tall and two to four inches wide—certainly not big enough to create a backdrop for a full grown ibis.