Author Thornton, R. J. Stapelias. [from the Temple of Flora ]
Published 1812
Item ID 72846
(Excl. 21% VAT)
London, the author, 1812. Single sheet (38.5 x 29.1 cm) on thick wove-paper; printed surface ca. 30 x 19 cm. Mezzotint, with original hand-colouring. A magical plate by the British botanist and physician Robert John Thornton (1768-1837) “In 1799 Thornton commenced his work on the New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus , a work of botanical science to be published in three parts. The most ambitious part of the New Illustration was Part III, the Temple of Flora . The first plates were engraved by Thomas Medland in May 1798, from paintings by Philip Reinagle. Between 1798 and 1807, they produced a total of thirty-three coloured plates, engraved in aquatint, stipple and line engraving. When he planned the project, Thornton had decided to publish seventy folio-size plates. Lack of interest from the general public spelled disaster for the scheme, and the holding of a lottery could not save it from financial ruin, neither did a page in the work dedicated to the spouse of George III, Queen Charlotte, patroness of botany and the fine arts. Yet, in 1812 a new edition in quarto format, was published. From this edition this is plate, Stapelias. ... Stapelia is a genus of low-growing, spineless, stem succulent plants, predominantly from South Africa with a few from other parts of Africa. Several Asian and Latin American species were formerly included but they have all now been transferred to other genera. The flowers of certain species, most notably Stapelia gigantea , can reach 41 cm (16 inches) in diameter when fully open... A handful of species are commonly cultivated as pot plants and are even used as rockery plants in countries where the climate permits” (Wikipedia). This is the only plate by Thornton that includes an accurately drawn (rattle) snake and a lizard too. Light toning, faint offsetting from a text leaf, otherwise in very good condition. Sitwell, Great Flower Books , p. 77; Stafleu and Cowan, 14283. Rich in detail: a fine but ominous plate from the work that brought about the author's demise