We are honored to offer a selection of superb hand colored folio engravings from the first edition of Flora Londinensis by William Curtis. These first edition prints are the rarest of Curtis's large-scale prints.
This comprehensive and elegant work was Curtis' masterpiece and the first comprehensive study of the flora of England. The artists included the inimitable James Sowerby, Sydenham Teak Edwards, Francis Sansom & William Kilburn, all in their salad days, when the sap ran strong & creative!
Born in Alton in 1746, William Curtis early on left an apprenticeship at an apothecary to pursue the passion which unites us all, the love of plants. Out of this love came the Flora Londinensis, which, though highly acclaimed by his fellow naturalists, was not a financial success. Curtis had labored on this work for over ten years, selling it out of his own home. He finally came to the understanding that a work of showy & bright exotic plants would be more likely to succeed with the general public than images of the wayside & woodland plants of England. Thus was born, in 1787, the Botanical Magazine, which Curtis called his "pudding" as it earned him sustenance, rather than the unremunerative praise of the Flora Londinensis. We have faith that time has allowed us to developed a much greater appreciation of this seminal work.
(References: Sotheby's 1987 Catalog, pg. 140 & Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration, 1950, pg. 184-185)
Each print is in excellent condition with little foxing or text offset, strong plate marks & intricate detail & superb intense coloring. The chain lined paper is a creamy white, with a number of plates showing J. Whatman watermarks. Each folio print measures approximately 10 3/4 inches by 18 inches, and is accompanied by the original descriptive text in most cases & a copy of the title page. On a few of the larger images, the top and bottom margins may be a little tight. Overall the prints are in excellent condition for their age of nearly a quarter of a millennium! If only paper could talk!