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Plate 213, The Wild Olive Tree
London 1739 - In 1737, Elizabeth Blackwell (1700-17587) produced a delightful volume, “A Curious Herbal”, containing many decorative plates of various plants. Such herbals, illustrating and describing plants for their alleged medicinal powers, were the medical books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This splendid, hand-colored engraving from “A Curious Herbal,” Plate 213, The Wild Olive Tree, measures 18” x 11” and is in excellent condition with faint evidence of verso page text. This engraving illustrates well detailed olives and leaves on branches. They are shadowed in shades of green and and black giving the engraving dimension . In the 18th century, talented and fiercely independent women seem to have flourished in the field of botanical illustration and Mrs. Blackwell, neither an artist nor a botanist, was suddenly faced with the problem of obtaining her doctor husband’s release from a debtor’s prison, where he was languishing after an abortive foray into the printing business. On the advice of Sir Hans Sloane, the famous London Physician and patron of naturalists, who had told her that a herbal of medicinal plants was needed, the resourceful lady set herself up in lodgings near the Chelsea Physic Garden, founded by the Society of Apothecaries on a piece of land donated by Sloane, and proceeded to make drawings of the appropriate plants and herbals. The result of her initiative and labors was “A Curious Herbal”, with 500 hand-colored copperplate engravings. The indirect result was Dr. Alexander Blackwell’s release from prison. Her efforts on his behalf certainly seem worthwhile today to anyone looking at “A Curious Herbal”.
      [Bookseller: Arader Galleries San Francisco]
Last Found On: 2014-10-10           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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