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Insects, Art, Butterflies and Moths, Moses Harris, Set of 4 Antique Framed Prints, London, 18th C.


Moses Harris (1731?-1785?) (artist, engraver and author)
The Admirable (or Red Admiral) Butterfly and The Small Magpie Moth, Plate 6
The Camberwell Beauty Butterfly, or Grand Surprise, Plate 12
The Silk Moth and The Large Tyger Moth, Plate 13
The Figure of Eight Moth, The White Admirable, or White Admiral Butterfly, The Chimney Sweeper Moth, The Red Arches Moth, and The Brown Plumed Moth, Plate 30
from The Aurelian: or Natural History of English Insects; namely, Moths and Butterflies
London: 1766 [1778, 1794 and 1840]
Hand-colored engravings
13 x 9 inches, image
20 x 17 inches, framed
$3,600, set of four in elaborate gold-leaf frames

Set of four framed plates from a highly regarded Enlightenment Era natural history work on English butterflies and moths. Drawn after live specimens, the insects are portrayed in lively compositions that incorporate depictions of their dorsal and ventral sides, their developmental stages (egg, caterpillar and chrysalis) and the plants on which they feed. Each also bears a dedication and coat of arms to his patrons in the lower margin. Harris published the work in 1766, and it was subsequently reissued in various editions. An indication of the esteem in which other naturalists held this work is that in 1840, J.O. Woodward, a highly distinguished lepidopterist brought out a new edition reprinting Harris’s plates and text, adding only the current scientific names and synonyms. In the preface, he praises Harris for “the grace with which he delineated the difficult and varied positions of insects whilst on the wing, the elegant arrangement of many of his plates, and above all the correctness of his figures.”

These four prints are offered as a set, as mounted in custom gold-leaf frames with acanthus corners.

Product description continues below.


Moses Harris was a natural history artist and engraver, known for his works on butterflies, insects and color theory. A member of the Aurelian Society, he served as secretary from 1762. He received his early scientific training from his uncle, a member of an earlier incarnation of the Aurelian Society. Harris’s notable works include Natural System of Colours, The Aurelian or Natural History of English Insects, An Exposition of English Insects, and copperplate engravings for Dru Dury’s Illustrations of National History. He was the first English artist to illustrate dragonflies accurately enough to be identified by species; he also discovered two species of fly. His insect drawings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1785.

Full titles:

Vanessa Atalanta, The Admirable (or Red Admiral) Butterfly, and Botys Urticata, The Small Magpie Moth, Plate 6

Vanessa Antiopa, The Camberwell Beauty Butterfly, or Grand Surprise, Plate 12

Bombyx Mori, The Silk Moth, and Arctia Caja, The Large Tyger Moth, Plate 13

Episema Coeruleocephala, The Figure of Eight Moth; Limenitis Camilla, The White Admirable, or White Admiral Butterfly; Minoa Chaerophyllata, The Chimney Sweeper Moth; Callimorpha Miniata, The Red Arches Moth; and Pterophorus Pterodactylus, The Brown Plumed Moth, Plate 30

Condition: Prints and frames generally very good with the usual overall light toning, handling wear.


Goodwin, Gordon, “Harris, Moses.” Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Vol. 25.,_Moses_(DNB00) (10 January 2018).

Harris, Moses and J.O Woodward (ed.). The Aurelian: a natural history of English moths and butterflies, together with the plants on which they feed. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1840. Online at: (10 January 2018).

“Moses Harris.” Wikipedia. 6 January 2018. (10 January 2018).

Additional information


18th Century