Hyacinths, from "The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature"
Engraver Thomas Warner British
After Sydenham Teak Edwards British, born Wales
Publisher Robert John Thornton British
Not on view
This delicately color aquatint shows five varieties of hyacinth in a coastal landscape and comes from "The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature, Picturesque Botanical Plates of the new Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus" (1799-1807). Varieties described here include Diana van Epheson (double white with small red spots, at far left and center), Don Gratuit (single dark blue, at back left), La Heroine (double white at front center), Globe Terrestre (double light blue, almost hidden behind a central white stalk), and Velour Purpre (dark double blue with green edged petals, at right). Dr. John Thornton devoted his personal fortune to the project which responded to discoveries about floral reproduction recently made by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus. The series represents flowers from around the globe in native habitats (although unexpectedly high costs reduced an intended seventy prints to thirty-two). Thirteen engravers reproduced paintings and drawings supplied by botanical artists, the plates were etched using a combination of aquatint, stipple and mezzotint, printed in color "à la poupée" then enhanced with watercolor additions. Size, composition and sensitive coloring here raise botanical art to a new level.