Born in Hingham, Massachusetts, Isaac Sprague (1811 - 1895) was a mostly self-taught ornithological, botanical, and landscape painter. He was the best-known botanical painter of his day. The Athenæum is fortunate to have seventy-four of Sprague’s watercolor paintings of birds, drawn between 1839 and 1842. These watercolors were given to the Athenæum in 1955 by the artist’s grandson, Isaac Sprague Jr., who was a staff member at the Athenæum. In 1960, he gave the Athenæum an additional 41 drawings of plants, flowers, and insects. In giving these items, Sprague Jr. stated that this collection of watercolors “was specially prized” by the artist and his son.
Curator of Prints & Photographs