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Four natural history watercolour albums - SLANEY, Eliza Harriet - 1836. [1201964]
Circa 1836 - Three albums 36.5 x 27 cm and one album 18 x 26 cm. The 3 albums with 357 original watercolours on thick laid paper, flowers and butterflies (including 68 from South America, 29 from Africa, 19 from India, 1 from New Holland and 1 from New Zealand); the landscape album with 67 original watercolours (54 birds, including 5 from New Holland, 10 from Brazil, 3 from Mexico and 3 from Cayenne) 7 signed, watermarks 1823-36. Contemporary blue half calf, marbled boards. A collection of over 400 watercolours of butterflies, birds, and flowers, depicting subjects from across the globe including many from South America, and some from Australia. In the time before photography, the only means of conveying images was in drawing and watercolour. Drawing books were very popular, often concentrating on how to depict particular subjects such as botany or portraiture. Lessons in how to paint and draw were an essential part of middle-class education and we see the application of such skill in works as diverse as midshipman's log-books, with sketches of coastal profiles, etc., and the present example of natural history studies. What makes the Miss Slaney's albums so interesting and valuable is the sheer quantity of the watercolours, combined with the fact that they are generally all given their scientific nomenclature, along with, in many cases, their country of origin. At around this time, hot-houses were enabling the cultivation of tropical species, such as pineapples, from around the world, and also bird artists such as john Gould were depicting specimens of native birds from far-flung places. This taste for exotica is well represented in the present albums. Little is known about Eliza (1804-1893); apart from natural history she also known to have depicted illustrations of country houses. Her attention to detail and use of colour is of a very high standard, exhibiting great precision and skill. The drawings contained within these four volumes are original watercolours after illustrations from botanical and ornithological works of the day. Eliza Harriet Slaney was the sister of the naturalist and barrister Robert Aglionby Slaney (1791-1862). The Slaney family lived in Shropshire from the 1500's, Robert concerned himself with matters of natural history, law, state of the poor and agriculture. Amongst his works include an outline of the smaller British birds, published in 1832 and a short journal of a visit to Canada and the states of America in 1860. The Slaneys were members of the natural history elite in England and knew the Darwins, with Emma Darwin writing to her mother in 1839: "Fanny's maids have been very uneasy at the shortness of our house- maid and are afraid that she is not tall enough to tie my gown. She is about the size of Betty Slaney ." ("Emma Darwin, a century of family letters, 1792-1896"). Also William Darwin Fox writes to Charles Darwin about Charles' old friend Thomas Campbell Eyton who married Robert's daughter, Elizabeth Frances in 1836, with William Fox remarking that "has not a love of natural history been probably the means of this match ." (A Natural Calling: Life, Letters and Diaries of Charles Darwin and William Fox Darwin, Anthony Larkum). At some point Eliza Harriet Slaney appears to have lived near Grosvenor Square, in Green Street and is recorded as residing near Hyde Park, just before her death in 1893 at the age of 89. [Attributes: Signed Copy; Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: Shapero Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2016-09-20           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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