- Museum number
Sharp-nosed Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus Mitchill ?), leaf from a volume (now consisting of 113 leaves of drawings), associated with John White
Watercolour, touched with white and silver (oxidised) and blue bodycolour
- Production date
Height: 388 millimetres
Width: 265 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See curatorial comment for BM SL-5270.1 for a discussion of the album which contains this series of drawings and SL,5270.97 for a discussion of the series of drawings of fish and reptiles (SL,5270.97 to 113).
There is an 18th century copy of this drawing in watercolour, commissioned by Hans Sloane before 1707 in British Library Add MS5267.95. It was the basis for Mark Catesby's plate of a Sturgeon in his 'Natural History of Carolina' (1743) (II, p. 30).
Possibly the smaller Sharp-nosed Sturgeon, (Acipenser brevirostrum Le Sueur).
Rather than scales, sturgeon have five rows of bony plates. Atlantic sturgeon grow to be 6 to 8 feet in length and around 300 pounds, though they have been reported much larger. They were once abundant off the east coast of America but are now (2007) considered endangered. They spend the first few years in brackish water before moving into the ocean and live to a great age, commonly fifty years. Harriot noted there were plenty of sturgeons and herrings, for the most part larger than those in England. This drawing is very similar in appearance to the sharp-nosed sturgeon, but the latter is much smaller and occurs in rivers and estuaries along the coast. It too is now endangered.
(From K. Sloan, 'A New World: England's first view of America', BM, London, 2007, p. 233).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- See Acq.Hist in BM SL-5270.1. Transferred from the Department of Manuscripts.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number