Jun 13, 2024 - Sale 2672

Sale 2672 - Lot 169

Price Realized: $ 45,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 70,000
(BOTANICAL.) Robert John Thornton. New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus Comprehending ... the Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature. 12 engraved calligraphic part titles, dedications and contents leaves, 10 uncolored engraved tables and plates including portraits of Thornton, Queen Charlotte and Thomas Millington, 2 portrait plates of Linnaeus (Lapland Dress and Knight of the Polar Star, each here in two states, colored and uncolored), 3 aquatint and stipple-engraved plates of classical allegory printed in colors and finished by hand, and 30 aquatint, stipple, and mezzotint botanical plates printed in colors and finished by hand; watermarks of "J.Whatman", "E&P", and "J.Ruse" variously dated 1794-1806 throughout. Folio, 22½x18 inches, contemporary worn and red-rotted diced calf, i.e., needs binding; moderate foxing and margin soiling, small early repairs to the Temple of Flora title and plate list; bookplate of Major Alfred Wynne Corrie to the front pastedown. London: For the publisher by T. Bensley, [1799]-1807

Additional Details

"... perhaps the most splendid of all English flower books." -- Great Flower Books, page 3 (1990).

"In 1798 there appeared the first of a series of some thirty large colour plates which are unique in that they produce the first flower prints with landscape backgrounds, depicting the natural habitat of the plant. The life size flowers stand forth dramatically and the whole effect is startlingly modern. This large folio, entitled the Temple of Flora or New Illustrations of the Sexual System of Linnaeus, was published by Dr. Robert John Thornton a lecturer on medical botany at Guy's Hospital in London. His announced intention was to make this work the most magnificent tribute ever paid to the famous Swedish botanists by illustrating his Sexual System with the finest possible prints. It was a work on which no expense was spared. Such important artists were employed to produce the designs as Reinagle, Pether, Henderson and Sydenham Edwards. The best of the contemporary engravers, numbering among the mezzotinters, the well known Ward, Earlom and Dunkarton, and among the aquatint engravers, Stadler and Sutherland, were engaged to prepare the plates. And these were engraved on a larger scale than anything which had hitherto appeared and then were basically printed in colour, an expensive and uncommon method in England at this time" -- Dunthorne, Flower & Fruit Painters, page 37.