so like whats up with john and turtles..?
Ah yes. My legacy.
Basically, the whole thing starts with the fact that John Laurens once drew three sketches of a soft-shelled turtle. Alexander Garden, a South Carolinian naturalist, was detailing the species in a letter to a friend and asked John to draw some accompanying sketches. The sketches and a description of the turtle were published in Philosophical Transactions, a scientific journal. You can see John’s sketches here. Here is a quote that explains John’s encounter with this turtle (Dr. Alexander Garden of Charles Town by Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley):
One October day, Garden received a very welcome present, probably from Lachlin McIntosh, who lived in Darien, Georgia…His gift was a large soft-shelled turtle, very common in the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers but fairly rare in the Charles Town area. The turtle, a female, weighed about thirty-five pounds…That he might remember how this curious animal appeared alive, he employed Mr. Leslie, an artist recommended by Henry Peronneau, to make a sketch. Knowing that Ellis would be interested, he asked Henry Laurens’ son, John, to make a copy of Leslie’s drawing. John was very clever with a pencil and spent much of his time at the Gardens. Garden considered him something of a genius, with enough application to make good use of his talents. In fact, he was certain that John, with the proper university training, would be ‘a joy and delight to his father, as well as an ornament to his country.’ John was thrilled with the live turtle. He spent many hours watching it, but neither he, Garden, nor the small Garden daughters were successful in finding any food to tempt the turtle.
John was an accomplished artist and quite interested in sketching animals. This, in addition to the whole turtle thing outlined above, has given John a reputation as an animal/turtle lover.
But there’s more. One day I was searching through John Laurens posts on twitter and came across a tweet which claimed that Laurens’s drawings were worse than Hitler’s and that Laurens had never seen a turtle in his life (it looks like the tweet has since been deleted). I was highly offended on behalf of John Laurens and decided to publish this post in defense of his artwork. The post blew up and now everyone views Laurens as a turtle lover.