Collection MSG BW002 - Taylor White Collection

Simia Simia Simia Ape Barbary Macaque Hamadryas Baboon Mandrill Southern Pig-tailed Macaque Southern Pig-tailed Macaque Lion-tailed Macaque
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Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Taylor White Collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material

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Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title from provenance of collection.

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Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1736-1759 (Creation)
    White, Taylor, 1701-1772

Physical description area

Physical description

938 paintings
cm of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Taylor White FRS (21 December 1701 – 27 March 1772) was a British jurist, naturalist, and collector. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London and served as its treasurer for many years. Beginning in the 1730s, White began to assemble a “paper museum”. He commissioned a number of artists, in particular Peter Paillou (from a French Huguenot émigré family in London) and Charles Collins (an Irish painter of still lifes and animals) to paint mammals, reptiles, fish and birds. He was also an avid collector of botanical drawings, and commissioned works from both Jacob van Huysum and the celebrated Georg Dionysius Ehret.

Taylor White’s extensive collection of bird and animal skins, live and mounted specimens, curiosities, and his collection of original drawings, was well known in his time. He was a member of a network of naturalists and amateurs that included Sir Hans Sloane (founder of the British Museum), Thomas Pennant (the first zoogeographer), Joseph Banks (explorer and President of the Royal Society), and George Edwards (author and artist). He left little correspondence and few publications. His collection of watercolours of animal specimens, from his and others’ collections, was preserved by the White family until 1927, when the zoological drawings and his manuscript catalogue were acquired by Dr. Casey Wood for what is now the Blacker Wood Collection

Custodial history

The Taylor White Collection is part of the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection held at Rare Books and Special Collections, and was originally part of the Blacker-Wood Library in Zoology and Ornithology founded in 1920 by Dr. Casey Wood. The paintings in the Taylor White Collection were purchased from the rare book dealer Bernard Quaritch by Dr. Casey Wood in 1927 by way of the London-based rare book dealers Wheldon and Wesley, who purchased them from Quaritch on Wood’s behalf.

Scope and content

The Taylor White Collection is comprised of 938 watercolour paintings of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. White, a British jurist, commissioned various artists of the day (including Charles Collins, Peter Paillou, Jacob Van Huysum, George Edwards, and Eleazar Albin) to paint these animal portraits from live and dead specimens brought back to England from around the world. Many of the paintings are accompanied by loose-leaf manuscript notes, written mainly by White in Latin, providing further information about the animal; transcriptions and English translations of these notes have been provided within the record for each painting.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


While Taylor White’s original organization scheme for the collection is unknown, before being shipped to McGill, the collection was arranged into 6 volumes of mammals, 16 volumes of birds, and 1 volume of fish and reptiles. This arrangement of the collection was carried out by William John Henry Craddock (1870-1941), an agent for the London-based rare book dealers Wheldon and Wesley. Craddock also numbered each painting in the order they were placed in each volume; as such, we have maintained this ordering system, and the number that appears before the title of each painting is the number assigned to it by Craddock. The physical storage of the collection also reflects Craddock’s arrangement, with each volume of paintings now contained in separate archival boxes. Craddock also numbered in pencil each of the loose-leaf manuscript notes, but made no attempt to match the notes to each painting.

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Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Digital images of the paintings accompany the archival descriptions of the paintings. Digital surrogates of Taylor White's accompanying notes have been grouped together by volume following the paintings.

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Items can be requested for consultation online via the Library Catalogue or by email at Advance notice is recommended.

Finding aids

Associated materials

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General note

Contemporary scientific names are provided on individual image records whenever identified.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

The translations and transcriptions of the notes that are included here with each painting were identified, matched with the paintings, transcribed, and translated by a team of SSHRC-funded researchers led by Dr. Victoria Dickenson in 2019. Many of the artist attributions and species identifications are also a product of this team’s research.

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area