Kristjana S. Williams at The Map House
10th March – 21st April 2023
Approach of the Simoon, 1842 (Subscribers’ Edition)
After a brief career as a housepainter in Perth, David Roberts began work in 1816 as a scenery painter and in 1824 exhibited for the first time at the British Institution in London. That same year, the artist helped to found the Society of British Artists and began travelling throughout Europe. Roberts created numerous drawings during a trip to Spain, a little known country in Britain, which were later published but it was Robert’s visit to the Near East in 1838-9 that became “the great central episode of his artistic life” , establishing him as one of the most celebrated artists of his day.
Between 1842 and 1849 the Belgian lithographer Louis Haghe executed lithographs after Robert’s drawings which were issued in monthly installments and bound into volumes under the unwieldy title, The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. The work was a great success. Associations with a biblical past appealed to the Victorian imagination and Roberts was determined to use his own artistic talents to surpass earlier works on the subject. In order to create a true impression of the visual and emotional impact of the scenes witnessed, Roberts often forsook topographical accuracy in favour of dramatic pictorial effect. The first professional English artist to visit Egypt independently of a patron or expedition, Roberts set a standard for topographical illustration that remains unchallenged to this day and his Simoon the most desirable of all of his images.
To see more of our original antique prints of David Roberts please click David Roberts For enquires and price lists, please do contact us.
Heraldry as known today largely originated from medieval times when striking designs were employed to easily distinguish between friend or foe during battle as much of the population were illiterate. Possibly inspired by legal seals, these early coats of arms were assumed by individual bearers and designed according to their personal preferences. From the 15th century in England, arms were granted by the Crown to living persons, their legitimate heirs and to legal entities such as Livery companies, universities and learned societies, and overseen by the College of Arms, which developed an elaborate language of design and meaning. Military arms were decided not by the College but by the colonel of a regiment until that was banned by the Crown in the 18th century. The Royal Navy expressed itself in the often extravagant figureheads on ships, also banned in the 18th century but did not employ formal heraldry until after WWI. Businesses did not have coats of arms but instead sought to acquire a Royal Warrant. Established in the late 15th century to replace the Royal Charter that had existed since the mid 12th century, the Royal Warrant gave the bearer the right to display the Royal coats of arms as a purveyor of goods to the monarchy. The Map House was granted a Royal Warrant as Suppliers of Maps to the Prince of Wales in 1920.
In the Victorian era heraldry became immensely popular influenced by the Gothic revival and Romantic movement, which arguably valued sincerity over authenticity and as such adherence to process was rather fluid. The newly rich and ambitious middle classes often invented or assumed arms particularly where they could match a surname, irrespective of arms not being granted to surnames themselves, or simply utilise a ‘crest’, usually the animal that rests above the shield, to suggest the existence of a full coat of arms. The more fastidious would pay the Armorial Bearings Duty, instituted to help finance the Napoleonic Wars and not repealed until after WWI, which was charged on armorial bearings “whether registered in the college of arms or not”, and thus give a pseudo official stamp of legitimacy to arms that had not been properly granted for a noble lineage that did not exist. Soon heraldic crests were appearing on everything from tobacco tins to tea towels until the fashion finally petered out during WWI.
To see more of our original antique prints of Arms or Military please click Flags & Arms or Military For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Romeyn de Hooghe
The Glorious Revolution c1689
In 1688 William of Orange, grandson of King Charles I, triumphantly entered London after James II (James VII of Scotland) fled to France. The Glorious Revolution as it came to be known was completed the following year with the coronation of William III and Mary II, daughter of James II, and the passing of the landmark Bill of Rights, legislation protecting civil liberties, limiting the crown’s power and confirming the authority of parliament. Romeyn de Hooghe, artist, author, lawyer, inventor and spy, recorded those momentous events in this pair of etchings. Although de Hooghe was an avid propagandist of William III he was not part of the peaceful invasion but rather relied on the sketches sent to him of a draughtsman known only as Hekhusien. In the first view De Hooghe shows the enthusiastic reception of the Prince of Orange on entering London with a pre-Great Fire of 1666 skyline as the city was still largely under scaffold. The second view is of William III presiding in the House of Commons, with a smaller sketch of the House of Lords above. On the walls hang the famous Hendrick Vroom Armada Tapestries commissioned in 1590 by Lord Admiral Howard to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Hung in the Lords from around 1650, they were lost in the fire of 1834 which largely destroyed the Palace of Westminster.
To see more of our original antique prints of London please click London For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Until the late 13th century ‘harvest’, from the Anglo-Saxon word hærfest, was one of the names for the season after summer in the British Isles. From about that time ‘autumn’, from the Latin autumnus, started to be employed as the specific name until eventually harvest was no longer the season but more the act of crop gathering.
The end of harvest time was usually celebrated around the autumnal equinox and Michaelmas (Feast of St Michael All Angels) at the end of September, although many important crops such as apples are harvested in October as are seasonal fruits such as elderberry. Following the calendar reform of 1752, the Julian calendar was replaced by the Gregorian and feast dates were ordered to be held on their traditional dates. Michaelmas was moved forward to the 10th of October and became known as ‘Old Michaelmas Day’. Preceded by the Hunter’s Moon, the first full moon since the Harvest Moon, Old Michaelmas is also known as ‘Goose Day’ as tradition had it a goose fattened on stubble warned off financial need in the winter. It is also the last day for blackberry picking, being the day Lucifer was thrown from heaven by St Michael and landed on a blackberry bush for which he annually curses it.
In the mid-19th century nearly thirty five percent of the population of England and Wales were regularly employed as farmworkers with casual and migrant workers swelling numbers at harvest. In 1840 the Royal Agricultural Society of England was formed to pursue new technologies in farming. Subsequently the 1850s and 60s were a golden age for farmers and labourers with good prices and low imports and advances in machinery initially increasing the need for even more workers as yields increased. Soon however machines were being designed for fewer hands as industrialisation was reducing the supply of workers whilst the decline of the horse and rise of motor cars and railways were transforming landscapes and rural communities. By the start of the twentieth century the percentage of the population working in agriculture fell to eleven percent and today is around one percent.
To see more of our original antique prints relevant to Autumn please click Horses & Domestic Animals, Field Sports, Fruit, Mushrooms & Vegetables and Science & Technology, For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is water and ninety seven percent of that is found in the salty oceans but the study of the oceans, Oceanography, didn’t begin in earnest until the expedition of HMS Challenger 1872-76. For every civilizations the importance of oceans for food, transportation, trade and so much more cannot be overstated but its study was largely left to sailors and amateur enthusiasts. Throughout the history of art and design motifs of oceanic life made their way into the designs of the Fine and Decorative arts, often dominating periods such as the Rococo and Art Noveau, but with an emphasis on the particular elements rather than the oceans as a whole. Although many of the earliest depictions of what lurks beneath were often little more than fantasies, by the end of the nineteenth century the illustrations available were both highly accurate and artistic to meet the demands of scientists as well as the wider public. Today Oceanography encompasses all aspects of the scientific study of oceans from ecosystems to seafloor geology to currents and waves.
To see more original antique prints of oceanic life, please click Fish, Shells & Sea Life For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
A Prospect of Stone-henge From the west, A Prospect of Stone-henge From the south, 1715
Engraved at the end of the seventeenth century by David Loggan, a journeyman engraver who had settled in England, this double panorama of the ‘rude Gigantick Pile’ was after the 1662 drawings of Willem Schellinks, one of the most widely travelled Dutch artists of his day. This scarce view, often referred to as The Bustards in reference to the birds that nest there, also remarks on the myths and fables surrounding the origin and purpose of the site, ‘most worthy its Authors whosoever they were’. The admiration of and draw towards Stonehenge continues today particularly at the time of the Summer Solstice, 21 June.
To see more original antique prints of England, please click England For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Eden or a Compleat Body of Gardening, 1757
John Hill grew out of obscurity to become one of the most prominent and controversial botanists of the 18th century, accredited with popularising the Linnean system but often forgotten in the review of great botanical works. Little is known of his early life. Born around 1716/7 he was later apprenticed to an apothecary, attending lectures at the Chelsea Physic garden sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries. He travelled the country collecting plants which he assembled into sets and sold by subscription, later making the acquaintance of Sir Hans Sloane and gaining employment as a garden and collection designer for the Duke of Richmond and Lord Petrie. Finding botany largely unprofitable Hill turned to work as an actor, appearing at the Haymarket and Covent Garden with rather disparaging reviews, briefly served as a regimental surgeon and then issued a re-working of Theophrastus’s History of Stones. This treatise brought him much admiration from eminent Fellows of the Royal Society, and he became editor of the British Magazine writing prolifically on all manner of subjects.
In 1751 Hill joined the London Advertiser and Literary Gazette as the highest paid journalist of his time. He wrote a daily letter, The Inspector, through which he gained celebrity and stoked controversy amongst his scientific peers particularly those eminent Fellows of the Royal Society some of whom he designated as little more than ‘butterfly hunters’, ‘cockle shell merchants’ and ‘medal scrapers’. Not surprisingly his candid critiques failed to gain him fellowship of the Royal Society and he resorted to a further campaign of criticism bringing him into fresh disputes but certainly elevating the general interest in botany as no Fellow had done. Regardless, Hill lost his lucrative writing post and then turned his hand at being a herbalist. Preparing remedies and writing on medicinal benefits, he was soon earning vast sums of money and again enjoying his notoriously extravagant lifestyle much to the irritation of his detractors.
From August 1756 to October 1757 Hill began issuing a weekly series on practical and ornamental plants for the kitchen and garden, Eden or a Compleat Body of Gardening, intended as a companion piece to his A Compleat Body of Husbandry. Both of these works were issued under the pseudonym of Thomas Hale, and received good reviews from a number of unsuspecting Fellows undoubtedly to Hill’s delight. With contributions from himself and various artists, each plate usually consisted of six plants organised by season with a later edition including twenty plates of individual plants. Although critical of the works of Carl Linnaeus it is here that he begins the introduction to England of the science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms. As with most of his works its was immensely successful.
At the end of the 1750’s Hill came under the patronage of the Earl of Bute who encouraged him in the production of his monumental The Vegetable System. Disastrously after its launch in 1761, Bute was unexpectedly appointed prime minister, causing him to lose interest and cease funding. Hill felt honour bound to persist with the project as advertised; he completed 26 folios with some 1600 plates but died in 1775 exhausted and impoverished. In his lifetime Hill divided opinion and brought much disdain upon himself but the success of his works and his contributions to the study of botany cannot be diminished; as one historian suggested, he was simply born ‘fifty years too soon’.
To see more original antique Botanical prints, please click Botanical. For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Cassell, Petter & Galpin/Cassell & Co
The Book of the Horse c1877 & The Book of the Dog c1890
Animals have played a significant role in Western arts, culture and society, and known more so than the horse and the dog. Domesticated in almost every culture as companions and workmates, they have been defined by selective breeding. All modern horse breeds stem from two distinct lines and were developed for specific roles from the powerhouse draft horses to the nimble thoroughbreds. Dog breeds have similarly been developed for particular purposes but with an emphasis on companionship and fulfilling the unique role they play in and out of the home.
In the nineteenth century as all areas of knowledge were expanding and potential markets growing, publishers increasingly sought to attract custom with a mixture of traditionally popular subjects and highly decorative techniques. The prolific Cassell publishing house issued The Book of the Horse and The Book of the Dog with chromolithographed plates of celebrated examples of breed. Introduced in around 1839, chromolithography allowed for the layering of colour to emulate the richness of oil paintings, bringing fine art into the home at a more affordable price. Each colour required a separate stone to be used and the overall effect relied heavily on the skill of the lithographer. An immensely popular format for art aimed at the ever expanding consumers of Victorian society, Cassell’s series have stood the test of time and remain highly collectable today.
To see more original antique prints of Domestic Animals or Natural History, please click Horses & Domestic Animals or Natural History. For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
London in 1560 (Ralph Agas), Cassell, Petter & Gilpin c1865
London in 1647 (Wenceslaus Hollar), Robert Martin 1832
London in 1560 (Folding plan published by Cassell, Petter & Gilpin c1865)
The magnificent Civitas Londinum plan of London was originally printed around 1561 and attributed to the Suffolk surveyor Ralph Agas. No example of that plan survives and instead it is known from a 1633 edition which incorrectly dates it as 1560. London is shown largely as it was at the accession of Elizabeth 1; the Roman wall no longer confines the city, St Paul’s is without its spire which collapsed in 1561, London Bridge alone spans the Thames, and Southwark is included with its bull and bear baiting arenas. London has finally recovered from the Black Plague of the 14th century, which saw its population halved, and has considerably increased in size and wealth with the Thames a buoyant highway for trade and travel. The most accurate depiction of Shakespeare’s London, there are two notable additions to the first Agas plan – the Royal Exchange, completed in 1571 can be seen where Cornhill and Leadenhall streets converge, and the Stuart coat of arms, in use from 1603, has replaced the Tudor arms although it is still apparent on the royal barge.
London in 1647 (Folding panorama published by Robert Martin 1832)
Wenceslaus Hollar’s monumental panorama of London was primarily based on a series of drawings he made whilst living in London. Hollar left England during the early years of the English Civil War, and in Antwerp relied on his sketches and an earlier 1616 panorama by Claes Visscher to complete his view. As a result, the bear baiting pit and the Globe theatre are in reverse repeating the mistake made by Visscher. Hollar’s London has not changed considerably since the Civitas; it is still only served by London Bridge and St Paul’s remains without its spire. At the north end of London Bridge can be seen a wooden fence, a safety measure erected after a fire in 1633 destroyed numerous buildings on the bridge and Thames Street. The slow pace of rebuilding would later serve as a firebreak for the densely inhabited bridge. In less than twenty years’ time London would be ravaged by another plague in 1664-6 and the Great Fire of 1666; the first decimated the population by a third whilst the second consumed nearly 500 acres and over 13,000 buildings, permanently altering the cityscape.
In 1832 when Robert Martin published his edition of the Hollar view, London was still relatively undeveloped; the Thames was unembanked, the railway was yet to be built and London was entering into a second cholera pandemic. By the time John Cassell and his associates issued their edition of the Agas plan a little over twenty years later the Thames was nearly completely embanked, a new sewer system in place, largely ending the threat of cholera, and the first underground line had been established. The rate of development, growth and wealth in the 19th century far exceeded anything that London had experienced previously; it became the financial and trading centre of the world, its largest city and largest port, a position it retained into the 20th century.
To see more original antique prints of London, please click London For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
Josiah Wood Whymper
SPCK – Plates Illustrative of Natural History, c 1857
Josiah Wood Whymper began his artistic career initially hoping to become a sculptor but soon turned to watercolours and engraving. Whilst working at the Penny Magazine Whymper quickly recognised the advantages of wood engravings for illustrated publications, and established a studio with his brother Ebenezar. Wood engraving used blocks which could be fitted into letter presses allowing for text and images of fine detail to be printed together, and at a fraction of the cost of using separate steel plates for images.
In his time Whymper was a much in demand master of the technique, working with the great natural history artist Joseph Wolf as well as providing images for Dr Livingston’s missionary travels, Edward Lane’s Arabian Knights, Joseph Hooker’s Himalayan journals and prolific publishers the SPCK (Society for the Profusion of Christian Knowledge).
The SPCK was founded in 1698 to promote religion and education, particularly in prisons and for children. Prior to the 19th century only a limited number of children received an education; schooling was developed and driven by the church and charities like the SPCK before the Education Act of 1880 began formal state education.
Whymper was commissioned to produce lively images which were accompaned by eloquent text. Amongst the pages of the SPCK children could transport themselves to far away lands with images of animals they were unlikely to ever see; menageries were generally private and the Zoological Society London was not open to the public until 1847.
Whymper’s son Edward, better known for completing the first ascent of the Matterhorn, continued the his father’s work but wood engraving gave way to photography and Edward earned considerably more with guidebooks and enthusiastic lectures on mountaineering. The SPCK continues to publish to this day, and it is through his images for the SPCK that Whymper is now most recognised.
To see more original antique prints of Natural History, please click Natural History and for the blog on natural history, please click The Nature of Collecting. For enquires and stock lists, please do contact us.
King Arthur’s Round Table
Encyclopaedia londinensi, 1829
Shortly after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built Winchester Castle. Reconstructed under Henry III in the 13th century, the castle’s destruction was ordered by Oliver Cromwell but with a pardon granted to the magnificent great hall and its fabled table of the 5th century King Arthur Pendragon. The round table at Camelot was first mentioned in Robert Wace’s Roman de Brut (1155) and then developed in significance in Robert de Borron’s Joseph d’Arimathie (c1200). In de Borron’s poem Joseph made a table in remembrance of the Last Supper with one seat, known as the Siege Perilous, left vacant to symbolise Judas the betrayer of Christ. Modelled on the Grail Table, the Round Table was made for Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father, by the sorcerer Merlin; the empty seat could now only be be filled by whomsoever attained the Holy Grail, the chalice from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, symbolic of spiritual attainment and redemption.
The first mention of the Winchester table, already dismantled and hanging on the wall, appeared in 1464. A substantial eighteen feet in diameter the table bears the name of twenty four knights famously in a circle so no knight could take precedence over another. Once revered as the original table, Winchester having asserted itself as the site of Camelot, the oak has now been dated to just after the castle’s reconstruction to around 1250-80. Further embellishments were added during the reign of Henry VIII whose desire to promote himself as a bearer of the Arthurian legend continued a tradition that endures today.
To see more original antique prints of Great Britain, please click British Isles Our galleries are full of surprises. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, please do Contact Us
Around the World, 1867 (1874)
Eduard Hildebrandt first trained as a house painter before entering the studio of the marine artist Wilhelm Krause. After travelling to Paris in 1840, where he studied watercolour techniques and landscape painting, Hildebrandt befriended the eminent German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. It was through Humboldt that he received his first major commission from the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to paint a view of Rio de Janeiro.
This expedition inspired many more journeys culminating in his round-the-world voyage 1862-64. From this Hildebrandt produced several hundred watercolour and pencil sketches taken from nature and direct observation, a selection of which were published as chromolithographs in his Reise um die Erde (Around the World) in 1867. He died ithe following year. Hildebrandt’s style is marked by loose, almost proto-Impressionist brushwork, as well as a vibrant use of colour and contrast. Chromolithography, the first viable method of printing colour, was ideally suited as a means of conveying his work in printed form; the painstaking layering of colours demanded by the process ensured that the prints stayed true to Hildebrandt’s bold and dramatic vision of the world.
These evocative images are among the most recognisable and collectable topographical prints published during the nineteenth century. For views of all the world, please click Around the World For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
My Hunting Sketch Book , The Sportsman’s Bag, 1927-38
Lionel Edwards was one of the most competent and exciting equestrian artists of the early twentieth century. With an obvious talent from an early age Edwards attended Calderon’s School of Animal Painting in London in the 1890’s and became the youngest member of the London Sketch Club providing work for Country Life. The Graphic and The Sphere from his small studio in Kensington. When WWI began Edwards enlisted in the Army Remount Service as a purchasing officer alongside Cecil Aldin and Sir Alfred Munnings. During the War the ARS handled well over half million horses with a budget of over £50 million.
After the war Edwards went on to write and illustrate more than thirty works including My Hunting Sketch Book and The Sportsman’s Bag. He also provided illustrations for other publications including Rudyard Kipling’s The Maltese Cat (1936) and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1946) but it was his depiction of equestrian sports particularly hunting for which he gained renown. Edwards was a keen huntsman, hunting with almost every pack in England and Ireland, and could often be seen painting from his horse or a bicycle.
The masterly depiction of the horse in movement together with sensitive impressionistic landscapes made Edwards one of Britain’s most celebrated sporting artists and he is often described as ‘the grand old man of British sporting art’. Although Edwards continued working until the 1960’s, it is for these evocative interwar works for which he is most recognised today.
To see more original antique prints by Lionel Edwards, of Field Sports and/or Horses, please click Lionel Edwards , Field Sports or Horses & Domestic Animals For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes, 1673
In 1647 Richard Ligon, a royalist who had lost his fortune in the English Civil War, set sail for Barbados. Ligon worked as a plantation manager until 1650 when ill health brought him back to England where he was promptly seized upon for his debts and imprisoned for three years. During his imprisonment he composed A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes published in London in 1657 and again in 1673. A best seller, it included several sketches of plants not least the Queen Pine or pineapple and remained the principal reference on Barbados for more than half a century.
In 1668 the pineapple was introduced into England for cultivation and by the early 17th century the fruits were achieving prices around £60 approximately £5000 today. Pineapples would be traded and rented for display but rarely eaten save in the wealthiest households where they were segmented on bespoke stands and pedestals. Charles II was depicted with a pineapple being presented to him and numerous artists were commissioned to likewise include pineapples in portraits, continuing the tradition of food ‘selfies’ as an expression of taste, wealth and power.
By the mid 1850s pineapples lost their cache owing to the increasing ease with which they were imported and were soon replaced by the rarer, luxury vegetable – celery. To see more original antique prints of fruit, please click Fruits, Vegetables & Mushrooms For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Arnoldus Montanus/Pieter Van der Aa
Iedo (Tokyo), c1650 (1729)
At the beginning of the 18th century Iedo (Edo), present day Tokyo, was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. From 1603 Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate which immediately began expelling the influential Jesuits and other catholic orders that had been expanding there throughout the 16th century. Foreign trade became heavily restricted; the British East India Co closed its factories in 1623 and by 1639 trade with Europe was entirely limited to the Dutch who were confined to the tiny island of Dejima off Nagasaki. In the mid 17th century the Dutch East India Co sent several embassies to Edo which in turn provided the material for Arnoldus Montanus’s significant work on the country published in 1669, and the main resource for the next fifty years.
In 1729 the prolific publisher Pieter van der Aa issued his monumental La Galerie Agreable du Monde which included numerous views based upon the works of Montanus. Edo is shown as it was prior to the great fire of 1657 with the old city centred around the Castle of Edo (Imperial Palace). Numerous landmarks are indicated with particular emphasis on the many palaces which much impressed Montanus, and in the foreground is a tributary procession returning from the court of the Shogun (this tributary route to Edo was the only opportunity for the Dutch to leave their tiny island).
For more than two hundred and fifty years the Empire of Japan developed with little influence from the West. However by the mid 19th century incursions from the outside world could no longer be resisted, and the feudal system of the shogunate and Japan’s isolation came to an end.
To see more of our original antique views of Japan, please click Japan For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Florence, 1744 (1774)
During the 17th and 18th century an essential element of any young gentlemen’s education was the ‘Grand Tour’. Intended to lend polish and sophistication the usual itinerary included study of the Arts in the preeminent cities of Europe with a special place reserved for Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance and seat of the Medici’s. A principal settlement of the Etruscan civilisation from the 9th century BC, Fiesole was destroyed by the Romans and the garrison of Firenze later established in its place by Julius Caesar 59 BC.
The turbulent rise of Florence magnificently developed its appearance and in the 1730’s the Marchese Andrea Gerini commissioned the local artist Giuseppe Zocchi to produce a series on the city’s most significant landmarks. Zocchi’s views captured Florence in the last days of the Medici’s as the dynasty begun in the 14th century became extinct with the death of the youngest son of Cosimo III.
From the mid 1740’s Florentine publishers issued engravings after Zocchi’s works which later came to the attention of Robert Sayer, a renowned London entrepreneur and publisher. At the time Sayer issued Zocchi’s views in 1774, Florence and all of Tuscany had become part of the lands of the Austrian crown and the Holy Roman Empire, enjoying a period of resurgence under Emperor Leopold II.
From the beginning of the 19th century, the idea of the Grand Tour would become increasingly commonplace as industries and transport opened up the continent to mass tourism, and soon artistic focus turned toward far flung locations in Asia and Africa which were becoming more accessible. To see more of our original antique views of Florence, please click Italy and for the other countries of Europe, please click Europe For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
In the 17th century a veritable madness for collecting shells took hold of Europe. Driven by the increase in exploration and commerce, particularly of the Dutch East India Company, shells were traded privately by sailors and company administrators with dealers waiting at the docks to vie for the newest specimens. Extraordinary finds from the sea floor were in great demand for the collecting cabinets of wealthy aristocrats and serious naturalists, and Conchylomania soon became a rival to Tulipmania, the one expressing the immutable the other the ephemeral. Although the hysteria for tulips had a spectacular crash in the mid 17th century the interest in shells only grew in response to the insatiable appetite for the new, the exotic and the status of possessing that which no one else had.
Shells became an essential design element in the Baroque period, particularly the later Rococo, and dominated all areas of the decorative arts until the end of the 18th century. The mania reached its peak at the 1796 auction of the collection of the Dutch naturalist Pierre Lyonet whose prized Nautile Vitré, Carinaria cristata, one of only two known examples, sold for 299 fl. (Dutch guilders) famously exceeding the amount realised for Johann Vermeer’s now priceless Women in Blue Reading a Letter, which Lyonet’s estate had sold five years earlier for 43 guilders. Throughout the 19th century shell collecting continued to be popular with the upper classes, and expanded to the aspirational middle classes but never quite reached the heady days of the 18th century.
For the most part collectors, even those with a scientific interest, had little regard for the inhabitants of shells; malacology the study of molluscs as opposed to conchology the study of their shells only came into being at the start of the 19th century. Principally made up of Calcium carbonate, the main component of seawater, molluscs began developing their outer casings some 500 million years ago evolving a fantastic range of shapes to thwart predators in addition to providing shelter. During a particular boom in mollusc shell building the subsequent depletion of calcium is believed to be responsible for rendering the earth’s atmosphere more conducive to the evolution of humans.
Today more than 100,000 known type of shells have been identified, and as the habitats of molluscs have become more accessible and the shells seemingly less rare even the once most expensive examples like the Conus goriamaris, the glory of the seas, are now available at auction for a few thousand pounds. However one can anticipate that in time the competition of collectors and exploitation of habitat will increase scarcity until once again shells command a king’s ransom.
For more original antique prints of shells and sea life, please click on Fish, Shells & Sea Life For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Nouvelles Vues de Paris, c1860
In 1848 Louis-Napoleon Buonaparte, nephew of the Emperor Napoleon, became the first president of the Second Republic of France, and three years later in true Buonaparte style claimed the throne of France as his own ruling as Napoleon III until 1870. The period of the Deuxieme Empire ushered in considerable alterations to the infrastructure of France, and a complete remodelling of Paris under a vast improvement scheme largely of Baron George-Eugene Haussmann. Swathes of medieval Paris were demolished to make way for Haussmann’s signature boulevards of architecturally conformist cream buildings as well as the new stations, theatres, markets, monuments, avenues, and sewers with parks and gardens to rival those of London.
Throughout the Deuxieme Empire the artist Phillipe Benoist in collaboration with numerous publishers and supported by the most accomplished of his fellow artists, including his brother Felix, issued views of Paris recording its metamorphosis. Acclaimed for his draughtsmanship and traditionally working from life, Benoist would also embrace photography, the new rival to landscape lithography. Taking advantage of its immediate accuracy in concert with his skills allowed for a greater focus on vibrancy and fluidity of composition, Benoist’s emotive and precise depictions capture Paris just as it is transforming into the herald of progress, and vanguard of ‘modern’ urban living.
For more original antique prints of Paris and France, please click France For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Universel d’Histoire Naturelle, 1849
Charles Henry Dessalines d’Orbigny was younger brother to the great naturalist and explorer Alcide Dessalines d’Orbigny. Like his brother, he was fascinated by Nature and the extraordinary species being found in newly discovered parts of the world.
d’Orbigny studied medicine and went on to work at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle tirelessly identifying and categorising the thousands of species his brother was sending back to France. With a particular interest in Botany and Geology, he succeeded the geologist Louis Cordier in 1834 and continued to work at the museum until failing health forced him to retire 30 years later.
Embellished with fine, hand coloured plates by some of the most accomplished artists of that period, Dictionnaire Universel d’Histoire Naturelle is one of the most comprehensive of the 19th century Natural History encyclopaedias.
To see more original antique prints on Natural history, please click Natural History. For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
The Land of Make Believe, 1930
During the Great Depression Jaro Hess, recently divorced and unemployed, turned to art and imagination to create his enchanting poster The Land of Make Believe. Born near Prague in 1889 to the chief engineer of a local steel mill, Hess joined the French Foreign Legion at sixteen for what he called the ‘worst years of his life’. After leaving the Legion, he gained a degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Prague, and immigrated to the United States in 1910. Hess pursued various roles as a chemist, horticulturist, engraver and steelworker until marrying and settling in Bay City, Michigan where he worked at his father in law’s plant nursery taking over when he died. In 1928 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society London for his hybridization of delphiniums, and came to the attention of Charles Greenway, head of the Booth Publishing Co. Hess moved to Grand Rapids principally working as a landscaper for Greenway but lost his job just as America entered the Great Depression.
The following year, 1930, Hess produced his painting Adventure in Storyland with fairy tales and nursery rhymes familiar and obscure populating one landscape, and displayed it at his farmhouse to the joy of his children and those of Grand Rapids. Hess had posters printed as The Land of Make Believe by The Child’s Wonderland Company initially selling them himself, and exhibited his painting in the children’s section of the 1933 World Fair at Chicago receiving much acclaim. The World Fair, billed as The Century of Progress International Exposition, sought to promote technology and development as America’s road to prosperity out of the Great Depression in the same year Adolf Hitler came to power.
During the pre and early war years, Hess continued his various jobs notably creating several extraordinary history dioramas with the local craftsman Lester Busse. When the United States entered the war Hess went to work in an aircraft factory through which he was reunited with his younger brother whom he’d not seen since immigrating, now the Czech Air Attach seeking recruits. The extraordinary Lt Col Alexander Hess escaped Prague in 1939, and made his way via Poland and France to Britain where he became one of the oldest airmen and a squadron leader in the Battle of Britain.
It is also around this time that Hess most likely sold the copyright of The Land of Make Believe to J&R Enterprises. It proved immensely popular, finding its way into bedrooms and schoolrooms across the country but significantly without Hess’s name, and with later reprints sensitively replacing ‘The Wandering Jew’ with ‘The Wanderer’. Hess did not benefit from his most renowned work, and when he died at 90 he was acclaimed principally as a landscaper but it is for The Land of Make Believe, bringing delight to children through some of the darkest years of the twentieth century and beyond, that he is now best remembered.
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Les Roses, 1824-6
Known as the ‘Raphael of flowers’, Pierre-Joseph Redoute served five queens and empresses of France, and is considered by many to be the greatest botanical artist known. He started his career as an itinerant painter at the age of 13, eventually moving to Paris where he developed his artistic skills in botanical illustration later being appointed peintre du cabinet de la reine by Marie Antoinette.
During a visit to London in 1786, Redoute met Francesco Bartolozzi, master of the technique of stipple engraving. First developed by William Ryland, the technique allowed for greater variations in shades and softness produced through dots rather than lines, and would later become Redoute’s signature technique. Talented and resourceful Redoute navigated his way through the tumultuous years of the French Revolution, producing his first solo work for the botanist Augustin de Candolle’s Plantarum historia (1799), also the first to utilise hand coloured stipple-engraved plates. Eventually he came to the attention of the Empress Josephine, issuing several works on the gardens of her estate Malmaison.
After Josephine’s death, Redoute continued to visit the gardens of Malmaison to focus on its roses, as well as those found in other grand gardens of France. His efforts culminated in his most famous work Les Roses (1817-24). Throughout production Redoute struggled with funding having lost his most important patron. However recognition did come to him through his Album de Redoute 1824, which included a selection from Les Roses. Charles X purchased the original water colours of Les Roses, and Redoute issued a quarto edition (1824-6). Soon Redoute was once again under royal patronage and appointed pientre du cabinet de la reine. He was still painting when he died unexpectedly at eighty.
In Les Roses, Redoute exceled himself in his accuracy and subtle detailing, capturing the fresh, delicate vibrancy of the live plants from which he worked (rather than specimens) but also his genuine understanding of the engraving technique itself. His precise, luminous renderings remain timeless, as fresh and lively as when he first painted them, making Les Roses the ultimate expression of one of the most gifted artists known to the genre. To see more original antique prints by Redoute, please click Pierre-Joseph Redoute .To see our collection of botanical engravings, please click Botanical For stock lists, enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Born in Switzerland in 1593, Matthaus Merian studied engraving in Zurich, and eventually moved to Frankfurt. There he gained a position in the successful publishing house of Johann Theodor de Bry, the leading German engraver of his time.
Merian’s panorama of London depicts it as it was at the beginning of the 17th century during the reign of James I before the Great Fire of 1666 largely decimated the medieval City. Based on views by Claes Visscher (1616) and John Norden (1600), Merian’s panorama extends on the northside of the Thames from the Palace of Whitehall to St Katherine’s by the Tower, and on the southside from Paris Gardens to beyond St. Olave’s.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is predominately depicted (without its steeple destroyed by lightning in 1561) whilst nearby on the waterfront is the Earl of Shrewsbury’s ill reputed Coleharbor House (known as the Devil’s Sanctuary), the Steelyard (base of the Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchant guilds in London), and Lion Quay (one of the most important quays near to London Bridge) all of which were destroyed in the fire. On the Southbank are clearly marked the Globe Theatre, the Swan Theatre, and the Bear Garden (the grisly ring devoted to varieties of animal baiting, an ‘entertainment’ that gave rise to the iconic British Bulldog but did not last much past the 1700s). London Bridge is shown with its many buildings, the last of which was demolished in the 1760s, and Stone Gate at the south end is adorned with traitors’ heads impaled on spikes (a practise begun in 1306 with William Wallace, and largely ended in 1678 when displays were moved to Temple Bar).
Merian became one of the most significant publisher/engravers in Germany during the early 17th century, and his panoramas of pre-fire London is one of the finest published during that time.
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Pomona Britannica, 1812
George Brookshaw retired as a cabinet maker to become a successful teacher, artist and publisher of botanical subjects. Brookshaw’s magnus opus, Pomona Britannica, was ten years in the making and depicted over two hundred and fifty-six varieties of fruit grown in some of London’s most celebrated gardens, and in particular, the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court.
Engraved in aquatint and stipple, printed in colour and finished by hand, Pomona Britannica depicted fruit in a stylized composition against an aquatint background for a striking contrast and dramatic effect. At a time when folio flower-books were having difficulty finding purchasers, Brookshaw’s fruits proved a resounding success, and in 1817 a fine quarto edition was published with little expense spared.
Brookshaw followed up his masterpiece with further publications but none would truly match the grandeur of Pomona Britannica, which may be considered one of the finest colour plate books ever published.
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History of the River Thames, 1793-5
John Boydell was one of the greatest ‘patron-publisher’ of his day, and his History of the River Thames, one of his greatest successes. With seventy-six plates by the renowned aquatint engraver Joseph Sadler after landscapes by Joseph Farrington, RA, Boydell’s Thames takes us on a journey from Thames Head in Gloucestershire through Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and eventually reaching London where pastoral scenes give way to growing industry and trade.
For some time Boydell himself rode the tide of a flourishing export trade in British prints, and in 1790 his publishing success was complemented by his appointment as Lord Mayor of London. However, within a few years the troubles in France destroyed the export market and his business collapsed. For several decades he had been the greatest patron of his age, bringing employment and wealth to countless painters, and leaving a legacy of some of the finest topographical and historical engravings of the eighteenth century of which the Thames is one of the best examples.
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Album Pintoresco de la Isla de Cuba, 1853 and 1855
Between 1840 and 1845 Frederico Miahle, a little know French artist recently arrived in Cuba, issued two collections of views to immediate acclaim, and immediate plagiarism.
Bernado May, a Spaniard working in Cuba, sent twenty six of the views to Germany to be copied. The lithographs were then sent back to Cuba where they were sold in competition with Mialhe’s originals, and at half the price. May was sued for copyright violation but due to a legal technicality was allowed to continue selling his views, and promptly issued a far grander chromolithographed version in 1855. Cheated and disillusioned, Mialhe left Cuba for France never to return.
The first important lithographed work of the island, it is largely through the very pirated editions Mialhe disputed that his work is accessible today. To see more original antique prints by Frederico Miahle, please click Fredrico Mialhe or for more views of Cuba, West Indies. For further enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Jane Webb Loudon
The Ladies Companion to the Flower Garden, 1843-45
Jane Loudon nee Webb was born into a wealthy Birmingham family at the beginning of the 19th century. Educated and well-travelled she suddenly found herself penniless at seventeen after her father’s business failures and untimely death. A gifted writer she sought to improve her fortune by publishing anonymously The Mummy, a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, influenced in part by Mary Shelly’s recently published Frankenstein. The Mummy would become a pioneer not only of the ‘mummy’ genre but also of science fiction with her tale including space travel, technological advances and even ladies in trousers. The Mummy also brought her to the attention of the literary enthusiast and landscape gardener John Loudon whom she married shortly thereafter.
Loudon frequently accompanied her husband on journeys connected with his profession as a landscape gardener, eventually becoming his artistic assistant. The production of his Arbortem et Fruticem Britannicum resulted in substantial debt but this led Loudon to begin producing her own works. Loudon recognised the lack of gardening manuals aimed at the ordinary gardener, and specifically the lady gardener. With the assistance of prominent horticulturist John Linley she produced a number of works the most successful of which was The Ladies Companion to the Flower Garden.
In her works she typically displayed her flowers in bouquets to reflect their ornamental rather than scientific value emphasising a good eye for colour and arrangement that would appeal to her growing following. Although Loudon died in 1858 destitute having never quite recovered from her husband’s debts or his early death, her works continued to be reissued for decades in testament to their enduring appeal. Decorative yet practical and entirely accessible, Loudon’s influence on shaping and popularising gardening in the Victorian era cannot be overstated.
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George Wolfgang Knorr
Thesaurus rei herbariae hortensisque universalis,circa 1780
George Wolfgang Knorr’s Thesaurus rei herbariae hortensisque universalis is considered one of the most attractive of the 18th century botanicals by one of the masters of the genre. From the 17th century florilegia, which focused on the decorative value of plants, had largely taken over from the herbals of the previous century which were principally concerned with plants’ medicinal value. This crucial difference had resulted from the growing fashion in the grandest gardens of Europe for the cultivation of ornamental plants from newly discovered worlds to provide spectacular displays of specimens hitherto unknown.
By the 18th century the florilegia were developing further as scientific study demanded greater accuracy for identification purposes as taxonomy (a system of classification) was established. A gifted painter, engraver, prominent collector and art dealer, Knorr also acted as an intermediary between the collectors of cabinets of natural history and those who used the specimens for scientific purposes. Knorr drew and engraved the plates himself for the Thesaurus with Latin titles drawing on different taxonomies but largely those of Carl Linneas whose system of classification is the basis for the grouping of all organisms today. Knorr’s Thesaurus, embellished with delicate hand colouring, was a precis response to the needs of the science of his time.
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In 1810 John Wilkes, an established London printer and bookseller, published the first eight volumes of his Encyclopaedia londinensis, or Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature with a volume published almost every year thereafter until the twenty fourth, and last in 1829. Within the Encyclopaedia were covered all manner of subjects with particular relevance to the Arts and Sciences.
Horticulture, the planning and development of a garden, had long been the confine of private collectors, churches and large estates, whilst fruits, herbs and vegetables were relegated to the practical kitchen garden. At the beginning of the 19th century public gardens expanded, and growing plants largely for pleasure became more possible and popular. The Encyclopaedia provided the amateur and the professional gardener with some of the most recent developments in horticulture as rival theories regarding cultivation expanded, and new techniques came to light. These particular examples of techniques and structures are in fine original hand colouring.
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Charles Decimus Barraud
New Zealand, Graphic and Descriptive, 1877
Born in Surrey in 1822, Charles Decimus Barraud emigrated to New Zealand shortly after his marriage in 1849, and set up business as a chemist in Wellington; later becoming the first president of the New Zealand Pharmacy Board. Barraud not only made contributions to Science in New Zealand but also to the Arts.
In his youth Barraud had displayed artistic talent, and soon gained recognition in New Zealand for his landscapes and portraits. For more than two decades Barraud travelled widely over a large area of the North and South Islands, sketching his impressions of the various provinces. From these field sketches he worked up larger paintings, taking his portfolio to London to be published in 1877 as New Zealand, Graphic and Descriptive. The first large scale work of its kind on New Zealand, Barraud’s lithographs simultaneously record features such as the Pink and White Terraces forever destroyed in the eruption of Mount Tarawera, and those vistas that look little changed today.
Barraud went on to become a founding member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, and its first president, as well as a member of the Otago Art Society devoting his time to mentoring up and coming artists.
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The Essex Hunt , 1831
In the first part of the 19th century the Essex Hunt, largely owing to its proximity to London, was particularly fashionable attracting a diverse mix of professions and social strata amongst its followers. Leaden Roding was the favoured centre of what was considered the best hunting country in Essex with access to the estates of the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Viscount Maynard and Lord Dacre. Founded in 1785 by the Rounding brothers, the Essex is now amalgamated with the Essex Farmers and Union.
At the time this work was commissioned by Thomas Hodgeson, a subscriber, the hunt was under its legendary Master Henry Conyers, an avid patron of the sporting artist Dean Wolstenholme. Wolstenholme was born in Essex, and first tutored by his father, a keen sportsman and artist of some recognition. He went on to the Royal Academy School, following which he studied engraving. Wolstenholme would eventually have his time split between painting, and engraving both his and his father’s works from his studio in Gray’s Inn Road. Although he was also a successful portrait painter and in his later years turned to historical scenes, it is for his sporting images that Wolstenholme gained his greatest following, capturing a time when large parts of the environs of London could be traversed unhindered before the inevitable encroachment of development.
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George Balthasar Probst
George Balthasar Probst was born into an extended family of printers in Augsburg, one of the most important centres for publishing in the 17th and 18th centuries, and quickly established himself as a leading artist, engraver and publisher. In 1745 he issued his panorama of Jerusalem based on a 1660 Wenceslas Hollar view but with additional pilgrims and caravans. Hollar had in turn based his panorama on the depictions of Jerusalem by the Jesuit writer and architect Juan Bautista Villalpando in his Ezechielem explanationes 1596-1604, a commentary on the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, which was highly influential on the artists and architects of his time.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem has repeatedly been sacked, left in ruins, rebuilt and sacked again. At the beginning of the 16th century internal conflicts between Mamluks and Ottomans led to further destruction until the Mamluks’ final defeat at the Battle of Rid Aniya. In 1535 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent began building the walls around the city that when completed in 1542 would be ten feet thick, more than fifteen feet high and nearly three miles long.
Suleiman’s reign would usher in an age of religious accord; ten years later Phillip II of Spain would fund the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the Aedicula and the tomb of Christ, and by the beginning of the next century passage for pilgrims would start to become more secure beginning with Henry IV of France’s first Protectorate of Missions in 1604. Probst’s panorama shows Jerusalem at that time, fifty years after the completion of the new walls, with greater access for pilgrims, and the Old City constituting what was Jerusalem much as it would continue to do until its expansion in the mid-19th century.
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Kunstformen der Nature (Art Forms of Nature), 1904
Ernst Haeckel, scientist, philosopher and artist, made a significant contribution to early evolutionary theory, and was profoundly influential on the Fine and Decorative Arts of his time. After completing his studies in comparative anatomy in 1859 he was invited to survey the sea life around Messina, which resulted in his 1862 monograph Die Radiolarien of the little known protozoa encased in silica skeletons. It was received with great acclaim particularly by Charles Darwin. A promoter of Darwinism, in 1868 Haeckel published Natürliche Schopfungsgeschichte (The Natural History of Creation) asserting the central thesis of Darwin’s Origin of Species but in language more accessible to a wider audience, and arguably more influential then Darwin’s rather technical Origin.
Haeckel published further monographs, and in 1876 was commissioned to undertake the identification and illustration of the HMS Challenger expedition, the first scientific survey of the oceans ultimately establishing oceanography as a science. Haeckel would name thousands of new species, established terms such as stem cell, ecology (oecologia) and phylum. However it is through Kunstformen der Nature (Art Forms of Nature), published in sets of ten between 1899 and 1904 and as a complete volume in 1904, that he is best known.
Haeckel’s expertly drafted sketches of meticulously organised, stylized sea life, translated into lithographs by Adolf Gilitsch, would be reinterpreted by all areas of the fine and decorative arts to inform the style of the Art Noveau, and inspire some of the great artists, designers and decorators of the Belle Epoque. Kunstformen gave insight into a world largely unknown, emphasising its symmetries and patterns to express the science in art, the art in science, and the connectivity of all living things. Ultimately our modern view of life has its foundations in Haeckel’s understanding of the natural world, and his holistic approach continues to be the framework adopted by emerging scientific fields whilst his extraordinary illustrations have never ceased to enliven all areas of the arts.
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