George M. Sutton’s Watercolors for Georgia Birds: A New Look


By Robert L. Crawford and Rosalie Rodriguez

George M. Sutton (1898–1982), an esteemed ornithologist, was also one of the preeminent bird artists of the Twentieth Century. He was asked by his friend Thomas D. Burleigh, who worked on his manuscript for Georgia Birds during the 1940s and ’50s, to provide the illustrations. Sutton painted a series of individual portraits of a select group of Georgia birds shown in their natural habitats. Sutton arranged to spend the spring and summer of 1952 with his friend Herbert L. Stoddard at Stoddard’s Sherwood Plantation in southern Grady County. They made a field trip to the Georgia coast near Savannah and Brunswick to study shore birds. Otherwise Sutton sought, studied, and painted birds in Stoddard’s backyard. Sutton described his experiences with Stoddard and his Meridian Road neighbors in an affectionate essay in the front matter of Georgia Birds, and in charming one-paragraph vignettes for each painting. Sutton gave the original Georgia Birds’ watercolors to Stoddard, whose son later donated them to Tall Timbers; they are part of the Stoddard Collection. There will be an exhibit of the paintings in the Beadel House Webster Art Gallery at Tall Timbers from November 19, 2017–February 28, 2018.

Burleigh’s Georgia Birds was published in 1958. Sutton was disappointed in the reproduction of the color plates in the book as a result of the engraving process used. Robert L. Crawford and Rosalie Rodriguez have collaborated on a new book, George M. Sutton’s Watercolors for Georgia Birds: A New Look, which features the paintings beautifully reproduced and Sutton’s original essay and vignettes.

Tall Timbers Press
Details: Hardcover; 10 x 12 inches, 96 pages
$35 plus tax (FL residents), shipping/handling additional