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The Snowdrop
London 1811 - Dr. Robert John Thornton (1768-1837) hand-colored engraving, 15" x 12.25", The Snowdrop, is from his book titled The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature, Picturesque Botanical Plates of the new Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus. Thornton began to indulge his lifelong love for botany in 1799. Determined to surpass the Germans in scholarship and the French in printing artistry, he planned a book of philosophic and literary distinction, illustrated by some of the best painters working in Britain. Within the book there are five frontispieces, portraits and allegorical compositions with thirty-two plates of flowers. Thornton made up each set with twenty-nine or thirty-two in varied arrangements. The lengthy text was primarily written by Thornton himself, where artists were commissioned to design and paint the images. The majority of designs were done by Peter Henderson and Philip Reinagle. The intaglio plates - a varied combination of mezzotint, aquatint, line and stipple engraving, finished with watercolor -were executed by Bartolozzi and other English masters. The title notwithstanding, few of the plates are of scientific interest. It is the forceful stylization of flowers, together with their historical, allegorical and/or fanciful backgrounds (prescribed by Thornton) that place the Temple of Flora among the greatest botanical books of all time. This plate is in excellent condition with evidence of binding on the right edge and a small stain in the top right margin. The brilliant coloring of the Snowdrop is highlighted against the receding hillside and billowing clouds.
      [Bookseller: Arader Galleries San Francisco]
Last Found On: 2014-11-07           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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