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Robert John Thornton

Lot 12584: Thornton - The Blue Passion Flower

Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

October 5, 2019
Franklin, TN, US

More About this Item


Description

"[Passiflora caerulea L.] The species of Passion Flower depicted in this plate, a native of Brazil and Peru and known in Europe since 1699, was the first discovered that was hardy in the cooler regions of the earth and could therefore, in Thornton's time, when glasshouses were less common, be more easily grown over a larger area of the world. Its flowers are only faintly scented and last but one day, but they are produced over several months, and plants flowering first in June often continue until October. In this plate both flowers and leaves have been depicted by the painter, Philip Reinagle, with life-like accuracy and engraved by Caldwell with a masterly fidelity. The delicate stipple of the flowers and their modelling, and that of the leaves is of a standard not often reached." (Ronald King, The Temple of Flora by Robert Thornton, 1981, p. 80)

Second state of three of this plate from The Temple of Flora. "Three very definite states...First state: the main stem and the stems of the bud and the leaf in the upper centre have a pronounced shadow with hard outlines. The dark patch of shading to the left of the base of the column has a hard upper edge. The part of the leaf to the right of the fruit is in aquatint only and so is the leaf projecting to the left beyond the column. The dark shading to the right of the column above the leaf has a jagged edge and the cloud above has an indistinct edge. Second state: the shadows of the stems of the upper centre are smaller and the edges are softer. The dark patch of shading is softened. The aquatint on the leaves mentioned above is strengthened with cross-hatched lines. There are added horizontal lines on the base of the column near the fruit. Third state...aquatint on the leaves and buds; the indistinct cloud has now a white edge, and there is...line rework[sic.] on many of the leaves. The flowers are no longer all printed in colours as before." (Handasyde Buchanan, Thornton's Temple of Flora, London, 1951, p.18).


This dramatic folio botanical engraving is from Dr. Robert John Thornton’s work New Illustration of the Sexual System of...Linnaeus. Comprehending...The Temple of Flora. The work was published in London by between 1799 and 1807. Each engraving was made using stipple, mezzotint, and aquatint processes and feature hand-coloring heightened with gum Arabic.

Thornton’s engravings featured an uncommon composition in which the subject was seen oversized in relation to the background giving the plates a theatrical presence. Temple of Flora is often considered the greatest achievement in British botanical art. Thornton employed some of the foremost artists to create the plates included Peter Charles Henderson, Philip Reinagle, Abraham Pether, and Sydenham Edwards. Richard Earlom, James Caldwall, Thomas Sutherland, and Joseph Constantine Stadler were the engravers for Temple of Flora.

Thornton's The Temple of Flora is the greatest English colour-plate flower book. "...[Thornton] inherited a competent fortune and trained as a doctor. He appears to have had considerable success in practice and was appointed both physician to the Marylebone Dispensary and lecturer in medical botany at Guy's and St. Thomas's hospitals. But quite early in his career he embarked on his...great work. What Redouté produced under the patronage of L'Héritier, Marie Antoinette, the Empress Josephine, Charles X, and the Duchesse de Berry, Thornton set out to do alone...Numerous important artists were engaged...twenty-eight paintings of flowers commissioned from Abraham Pether, known as `Moonlight Pether,' Philip Reinagle, ...Sydenham Edwards, and Peter Henderson...The result...involved Thornton in desperate financial straits...In an attempt to extricate himself he organized the Royal Botanic Lottery, under the patronage of the Prince Regent...It is easy to raise one's eyebrows at Thornton's unworldly and injudicious approach to publishing...But he produced...one of the loveliest books in the world." (Alan Thomas, Great Books and Book Collecting, pp.142-144)

Dimensions

~ 21 1/2" by 16 1/2"

Artist or Maker

Robert John Thornton

Medium

Large Folio Mezzotint and Aquatint Engravings Printed in Color and Colored by Hand (at time of printing)

Date

1799-1807

Condition Report

Overall Excellent. There may be a minor imperfections to be expected with age. Please review the image carefully for condition and contact us with any questions.

Literature

Temple of Flora

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Invoicing and payment are completed through Invaluable's system. If an alternate form of payment is requested, please contact us. Payment for winning lots should be completed within 10 business days. We are also glad to answer any additional questions on condition or service. We typically answer very quickly, but always within one business day. All purchases are guaranteed to be authentic. These are all antique items and thus may exhibit imperfections from time and wear, please contact with any concerns before the auction.

Shipping Terms

Shipping is handled within 1-3 business days of completed payment. Shipping is billed after the sale based on customers choice of service. We ship via USPS and FedEx and calculate based on the total package weight and destination. All shipments are insured, though to provide this some services may be required when shipping outside of the United States. We're glad to provide quotes and options of services.
The buyer is responsible for paying the customs fees, duties, import taxes, and any related charges. Customs can cause delays in arrival of your shipment, which the seller has no control over. Please consider these charges and delays when making your purchase.

Taxes

Tax is applied to TN state purchases at a rate of 9.25%.

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