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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster, 1792-1801
A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster is remarkable, if not unique, in that all the plates of which it is composed were engraved and aquatinted by the artist in person. The secret of the aquatint process which allowed for gentle gradations of tone similar to those of watercolour paintings was developed in France in 1768 by Jean Baptiste Le Prince and crossed the Channel in 1774. Malton’s project was the first considerable collection of London views engraved in aquatint but also the first large British aquatint series on any topic.
Although the title of his work, A Picturesque Tour, suggests Malton’s concern lay with presenting a restful image of the city, much of his work is characterised by plunging perspectives and vigorous architectural clarity – traits which he nurtured in his young pupil William Turner upon whom he had a considerable influence. Malton’s principal aim was accuracy, detail and to convey the sense of structures, and as such A Picturesque Tour remains an essential albeit rare part of the dramatic record of the topographical history of London.
Encyclopaedia londinensis, or,
Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature, 1810-29
Originally from Winchester, John Wilkes was an established London printer, bookseller, publisher, and the proprietor of the Hampshire Chronicle, one of England’s oldest continuing publications. In 1810 Wilkes published the first eight volumes of his Encyclopaedia londinensis with a volume published almost every year thereafter until the twenty fourth, and last in 1829.
Many of the engravings for the Encyclopaedia londinensis were executed by the extremely gifted John Pass, also originally from Winchester. Pass used his own work as well as images by some of the finest artists of his time, making amendments where necessary to correlate to the Encyclopaedia. Sadly Pass’s lasting fame came not from his life’s work but rather his death.
In 1832 whilst collecting a debt Pass was brutally murdered by the young printer James Cook. Cook dismembered the body, leaving the pieces in an open grate but the chimney caught fire, and neighbours alerted the police. Cook was hanged in Leicester; his body ‘anatomised’ by students, then redressed, placed in a gibbet, and put on display. He was the last man in England to be so exhibited.
The Encyclopaedia londinensisis serves as an extraordinary record of the talents of Pass and his contemporaries whilst providing an eloquent visual presentation of the history and most recent developments in the Arts and Sciences of the time. These particular examples are in fine original hand colour, expertly and lavishly applied with no expense spared, and are without known equal.
Capt. Robert Melville Grindlay
Scenery, Costumes and Architecture, chiefly on the Western Side of India, 1826 and 1830
Robert Melville Grindlay was born in 1786 shortly after the India Act of 1784 sought to reorganise the management of the mighty East India Company, and the years of his youth were influenced by the focus of British interests on Indian events. At the age of 17 Grindlay joined the East India Company as a military cadet, a year later promoted to Lieutenant, and by 1817 had made Captain. After 16 years with the 7th Bombay Native Infantry Grindlay retired, and returned to England.
During his relatively short military career Grindlay’s various appointments within the regiment enabled him to travel widely, and pursue his interests as an amateur artist. In 1826 the eminent publisher Rudolph Ackermann recognising the market for fine prints of the region undertook publication of Grindlay’s work. Grindlay produced more than half of the sketches with a large proportion of the remainder made by William Westall, a professional watercolourist who had explored parts of the Western Ghats in 1804. Issued in six parts, over 25 artists, engravers and colourists were employed on the project.
Grindlay went on to start an agency in 1828 that eventually became Grindlay and Co., the most distinguished bankers and agents to the civil and military officials of the British community in India. In 1847 Grindlay established a periodical Home News (A Summary of European Intelligence for India and the Colonies) in London, which soon became essential reading for the civil and military community of British India.
Although an accomplished businessman and publisher, it is for his views of western India that Grindlay is best remembered. Scenery, Costumes and Architecture poignantly captures the exotic and romantic appeal of the India that was just becoming known to a wider audience in Britain, and is considered one of the most attractive colour plates books on India ever published.
or Coloured Figures intended to elucidate the Mineralogy of Great Britain, 1804-17
James Sowerby, son of a lapidary (stone cutter, polisher and engraver), studied at the Royal Academy were he learned to paint miniatures and portraits. In order to make his backgrounds more realistic Sowerby also studied botany, and soon became an expert illustrator of plants publishing his 36 volume English Botany from 1790-1813. From the late 18th to the late 19th century the Sowerby family of collectors, naturalists, artists and publishers would have an immense impact on the study, and dissemination of natural history knowledge in Great Britain.
From 1802 Sowerby began to issue by subscription his British Mineralogy, the most ambitious work on minerals ever produced. Each plate was meticulously drawn from specimens in Sowerby’s personal mineralogical collection from British mines extracting some of the most richly mineralised deposits yet discovered. Sowerby issued the work in 78 parts with assistance from his sons George and James; each plate was carefully engraved, and then richly hand-coloured with individual subscribers binding up their own collections. British Mineralogy quickly became an influential source of information at a time when the study of geology and mineralogy was extremely fashionable. To this day it has not been superseded.
The Beautiful Scenery And Chief Places Of Interest Throughout The Crimea, 1851
Carlo Bossoli was a renowned designer, painter and tireless traveller whose works are represented in the finest museums and private collections. In 1820 Bossoli’s father, a stonemason, moved his family to the Odessa region where his son demonstrated himself as a gifted artist from an early age; working as a set designer apprenticed to Rinaldo Nannini and selling his first cityscapes by the age of eighteen. He worked in Odessa, Rome and Milan and became particularly known for his ‘cosmorami’, an optical chamber in which his great panorama of Odessa was viewed. Bossoli soon came to the attention of Prince Michael Vorontsov, Viceroy of the Caucasus, who commissioned numerous paintings and provided quarters for several years on his estate at Alupta.
In 1844 Bossoli moved to Milan from which he travelled extensively around Europe before establishing himself in Turin. Towards the end of the Crimean War he went to London to complete a few commissions, gained great acclaim with his Crimean Exhibition on Pall Mall, and the publication by Day and Son of his Scenery of the Crimea. Largely based on his drawings and watercolours executed on the estate of Prince Vorontsov, this series of fine original colour lithographs show a Crimean Peninsula that is tranquil, developed and prosperous, perfectly demonstrating the well composed, precis and suggestive work for which Bossoli was famed.
The Great Barrier Reef, 1893
In the mid 19th century England was gripped by the violent Saville-Kent murder, embroiling the family in scandal and suspicion. In 1860 four year old Francis Saville-Kent was brutally murdered, and five years later his half-sister Constance was convicted; her younger brother William was suspected as an accomplice by the famous Inspector Jack Whicher but was not brought to trial. After serving twenty years, Constance was released and joined her brother William who had moved to Australia, and later was appointed Inspector of Fisheries in Tasmania in 1894.
Saville-Kent was promoted to Commissioner of Fisheries for Queensland and then Western Australia, went on to create the technique used today for cultured pearls and became an early pioneer in theories of sustainable fish farming. Although made notorious by Francis’s murder, he is best remembered for his important work on The Great Barrier Reef.
Off the coast of Queensland in the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef is made up of some 3000 reefs, 900 islands and covers an area of nearly 350,000 kilometres. First documented in 1768 by Louis de Bougainville, its length was sailed by James Cook in 1770, and later partial surveys were made by William Bligh, captains Bampton and Alt, Matthew Flinders, and the hydrographer Philip Parker King but it was not until Saville-Kent’s survey that a study of the reef’s ecosystem was produced.
Today coral bleaching in the reef has increased (the corals expel their fellow algae, turn white and often die), whilst coral cover has decreased in growing contrast to the abundance Saville-Kent recorded. The chromolithographs produced by Riddle and Couchman after Saville-Kent’s sketches are a poignant testament to the reef as it was over a hundred years ago, and vibrantly capture its colour and exuberance with the same naivety that led Saville-Kent to enthusiastically, and ominously, subtitle his work ‘its products and potentialities’.
Ignace Xavier Hommaire de Hell and Jules Laurens
Voyage en Turquie et en Perse, 1853
In 1835, the geographer and engineer Ignace Hommaire de Hell sailed to Turkey to oversee the construction of a suspension bridge in Constantinople and a lighthouse on the Black Sea coast. Whilst continuing his ethnographical and commercial research, he extensively surveyed the surrounding region, carried out geographical, industrial, and mining surveys for Czar Nicholas I, and supervised mining and road building projects for the prince of Moldavia until illness forced him to return to France in 1842
Two years later de Hell returned, and in 1847 set off for Persia with the twenty two year old painter Jules Laurens. Anticipating a difficult journey, de Hell sent his wife back to France, and indeed owing to ill health, did not reach Tehran until February 1848. He was authorised by Mohammad Shah Qajar to study the feasibility of a canal from Sahrud to Savojbolaq and spent a month engaged in surveys and archaeological observations, culminating in a study of the Varamin mosque. Returning to Tehran and then setting off for Isfahan that same year, de Hell arrived extremely ill and died two weeks later. de Hell’s papers were returned to his wife who, in collaboration with Laurens and with the support of the French Government, was able to publish his research a few years after his death with Laurens evocative views. Jules Lauren went on to have a prolific career in France as a painter with an emphasis on the ‘Oriental’, a theme largely visited from memory from his great journey with de Hell into the lands little seen by Western eyes.
George Wolfgang Knorr
Les Delices des Yeux et de l’ Esprit, ou Collection Générale des Differents Especes de Coquillages que la Mer Renferme, 1760
George Wolfgang Knorr’s elegant work on sea-shells was one of the most sumptuously illustrated German works of the 18th century. Les Delices des Yeux were in precis groupings according to Carl Linneas’s system of scientific classification, the basis for how all organisms are grouped today.. Drawn by Johann Keller, Professor of drawing at Erlangen and executed by a number of eminent engravers, the plates were then enhanced with delicate hand-colouring.
The late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw a growing number of wealthy collectors acquiring specimens and illustrations of rare and exotic shells, a trend to which Knorr’s work made a significant contribution. A gifted painter, engraver, prominent collector and art dealer, he acted as an intermediary between the collectors of cabinets of natural history and those who used the specimens for identification and scientific enquiry. Knorr gained an international reputation for producing works of fine quality and extreme accuracy, and this was one of his greatest productions.
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore, 1819
Born at Carlsruhe in 1763, Melling studied painting and then Mathematics and Architecture. At the age of nineteen he joined the Russian Ambassador’s household and travelled to Italy, Egypt and Smyrna, until finally settling in Constantinople.
Melling’s work on the restoration of the Dutch residence Nestabad brought him to the attention of Sultana Hadidge, sister to Selim III and in 1795 he was appointed Imperial Architect, a post he held for 18 years. His close relationship to the Ottoman Court gave him privileged access not normally afforded to commoners let alone Europeans thus allowing him the opportunity to record an intimate picture of the Ottoman city and its society.
In 1803 Melling returned to Paris and began sourcing subscribers for what would become the monumental Voyage Pittoresque, and by 1819 all 12 issues with a total of 48 plates and 3 maps were published. His publication was wildly successful; his exhibition of the original paintings at the Louvre earned him the Gold Medal and led to his appointment as landscape painter to the Empress Josephine. Regarded in both the West and the East as one of the grandest and most beautiful works of Constantinople, it can be said that Melling saw the city as an Ottoman but painted it as a European, expressing a lovely balance of adoration and artistic skill that renders this work without rival.
Les Champignons Comestibles et les Especes avec Lesquelles Ils Pourraient Etre Confondus
(Edible Mushrooms and the Poisonous Species With Which They Should Not be Confused), 1890
Apothecary and artist Fritz Leuba’s monograph on mushrooms was a considerable artistic edition to the relatively new discipline of Mycology, the study of funghi. Although the collecting of mushrooms has been integral to societies since prehistoric times, they were largely considered to be a type of plant that was missing organs and as such did not warrant their own field of study. In 1836 Miles Berkley published his first of many contributions to the science, and indeed gave name to and is considered the father of, Mycology.
When Leuba issued his work, the importance of the medicinal value of mushrooms was becoming better understood as was their toxicity, dual elements which previously had only been known through fanciful tales. These fine chromolithographs illustrate Leuba’s exacting eye for detail and understanding of the vital importance of accuracy to life and death whilst the inky black backgrounds provide drama and contrast that emphasises the converging of Art and Science, and alludes to their dark histories.
Happy Christmas Heureux Noel, St Raphael Quinquina, 1939
The Parisian weekly newspaper L’Illustration was founded in 1843 by the distinguished lawyer and critic Edouard Charton to improve knowledge and artistic tastes, and was one of the first French newspapers to utilise new techniques in printing. Popular in the bistros of Paris since its successful promotion at the 1900 Exposition, St Raphael, an aromatised fortified wine or quinquina created in 1830, became particularly adept at utilising art for advertisement, and closely associated with the happy years of peace between WWI and WWII.
At the title are the twin waiters who came to represent the aperitif, one for the rouge version and the other for the blanc, whilst a French soldier and a British soldier jovially toast each other in celebration. The reality of the prevailing mood however was decidedly different as both nations had just declared war on Germany in response to the invasion of Poland. Following the liberation of Paris, I’llustration ceased printing but St Raphael remains as popular as ever.
To see more original antique and vintage advertisements, please click on Advertisements & Cartoons or to purchase our book on conflict propaganda, please see War Maps. For further enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.
Thomas Shotter Boys
London As it Is…, 1842
Thomas Shotter Boys first served as an apprentice in London under the engraver George Cooke and was soon absorbed by this gifted family of artists and engravers. Shotter Boys then moved to Paris, and in 1839 had his first major work published by his cousin Thomas Boys in London. In 1842 Shotter Boys issued his next major work, Original Views of London As It Is… with many of his plates personalised with allusions to or puns of his name; of particular note is the view of the Tower and the Mint with the two fat boys who became John Tenniel’s inspiration for Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
Depicting an unusually tranquil Metropolis, London As It Is… remains one of the most desirable representations of early Victorian London available today.
Voyage dans l’Amerique Meridionale, 1847
Alcide d’Orbigny arrived in South America in 1826, preceding Charles Darwin’s Beagle expedition by five years and causing Darwin great concern that d’Orbigny would find all the best things first. Indeed in the nearly eight years d’Orbigny spent exploring Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, he catalogued and theorised on over 10,000 species of flora and fauna. These plates capture a moment in time when nature seemed to be unfolding countless mysteries to the naturalists crisscrossing the globe in the hopes of being the first to record heretofore unknown species.
Although in his time d’Orbigny rivalled Darwin in his pursuits and is considered the founder of micropaleontology and biostratigraphy, for the most part he has faded in the shadow of his rival. Even the magnificent flightless bird he first recorded is now known as Darwin’s Rhea having been incorrectly named by an unwitting John Gould.
Broadway Skyline, 1908
At the beginning of the 20th century the United States was entering a period of unprecedented development with New York City leading the way. This early skyline by the renowned American commercial photographer Irving Underhill shows the skyscrapers from the New York Life to the Whitehall, and includes the tallest building in the world at the time, the Singer building. The Singer was completed in 1908 along with the City Investing building and the mammoth Hudson Terminal. More than twenty years would pass before the iconic Empire State building would hold the title of world’s tallest building, which it retained for forty years until the 1970 completion of the World Trade Centre’s North Tower. In 2001 the Empire State tragically regained its title for ten years until the reconstruction of the Trade Centre was completed.
Bernhard Siedgfried Albinus and Jan Wandelaar
Tabluae Anatomicae Scelletti et Musculorum Corpis, 1747
A pupil of the renowned Dutch physician Herman Boerhaave, Bernhard Siedgfried Albinus was the leading anatomist of his time, and in 1747 he published his most important work, Tabluae Anatomicae Scelletti et Musculorum Corpis Humani, with an English edition appearing two years later.
Of outstanding quality, the illustrations for the Tabluae were far ahead of anything that had previously appeared, and marked a high-point in the close association between Art and Anatomy. Executed under Albinus’s direct supervision, the drawings had to meet his three rules – objectivity (precise depiction of form and location), symmetry (aesthetically beautiful with ideal proportions), and vitality (strength, beauty, and grace of movement). The two most famous of the plates depict a rhinoceros calf with a horn yet to grow, drawn from the first living specimen in Europe by the artist and engraver Jan Wandelaar.
Clara was an Indian Rhinoceros who had been gifted by the King of Assam to the director of the Dutch East India Company in Bengal, and brought up as a pet until she grew too large for the house. She was sold to a Dutch captain and arrived in Holland in 1741 where she went on public exhibition becoming an immediate sensation; Albinus and Wandelaar were entranced upon seeing her and claimed her as the symbol of their work.
For nearly twenty years Clara travelled in style around Europe; poems were written to her, portraits painted of her, a hairstyle ‘á la rhinoceros’ dedicated to her. She was handled with considerate care, and fed on a fine diet which included beer, wine and tobacco smoke being blown into her nostrils. Immortalised in memorabilia and the decorative arts, she is mentioned in letters and memoirs from Diderot to Casenova. Wandlelaar’s inclusion of Clara was to heighten the contrast of light and shadow, perspective, contour, form and size, but also to delight with the addition of such a rare and famous beast.
The Tabulae was some twenty years in the making, thirteen for the artwork, utilising a complex three phase grid system for precision and another seven for the engraving. Although widely criticised at time of publication for the very backgrounds that make it so desirable today, this innovative collaboration influenced generations of anatomists and artists, and is one of the most important anatomical works produced during the Age of Enlightenment.
Thomas Mower Marti
A prolific artist until his death at the age of 95, Thomas Mower Martin would be heralded as the ‘Dean of Canadian Painters’ and ”The Father of Canadian Art’. Born in England, Mower Martin was destined for a military career. However after attending several Royal Academy exhibitions he began studying at a number of artistic institutions. In 1862, he bought a farm from a newspaper advertisement and emigrated to Canada with his wife. The farmland was of poor quality and the lifestyle meagre but eventually Mower Martin began painting full time having acquired commissions in Canada and the United States. In 1887 under the sponsorship of the Canadian Pacific Railway he made his first trip to Western Canada, returning every year for a decade and becoming one of the group of artists known as The Railway Painters.
Mower Martin was a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists, The Royal Canadian Academy and a director of the Ontario Government Art school. He travelled extensively throughout the country and published his major compilation Canada in 1907 with text by Wilfred Owen. His work was a mixture of realism and naturalism, capturing the extraordinary diversity and vastness of the Canadian landscape as it entered the 20th century.
Britannia Illustrata, circa 1708 – 1720
Born in Amsterdam, Johannes Kip produced his most important work in London – a series of architectural etchings after the drawings of Leonard Knyff, published in London by David Mortier of Amsterdam from circa 1708. Further volumes followed with the second volume consisting of similar bird’s-eye views drawn and etched by Kip, with additional volumes containing the works of other artists as well.
Kip’s spirited yet delicate mastery of the engraving medium coupled with his accuracy, attention to detail and handling of light and shade set the standard for all subsequent topographical engravers. The plates are also remarkable for the way in which Knyff was able to elevate his viewpoint in order to achieve a far reaching bird’s eye view over vast areas of land. Given that he had no means of raising himself above the landscape, we can only assume that he achieved these effects by surveying vast areas of land and using the resultant sketches as a basis for his projections. The period features combined with anecdotal details of human interest (men hunting, reaping hay, etc.) tempt the imagination, and draw us into Kip’s enchanting 18th century world.
Dr Robert Thornton
The Temple of Flora, 1799-1807
At the end of the 18th century Dr Robert Thornton, an enthusiastic amateur botanist who had come into a substantial inheritance, sought to produce a botanical work that would be ‘a National Honour’. The Temple of Flora was based on the controversial ideas of Carl Linnaeus who began the taxonomy or system of classification still used in science today. Between 1799 and 1807, Thornton published about thirty mixed method engravings, issued in different combinations according to the specific requirements of individual customers. Thornton put every penny into his vision, no expense was spared, with the result being a monumental artistic achievement and colossal financial disaster. In an attempt to salvage some of his fortune he obtained the permission of Parliament to organise a lottery, with twenty-thousand tickets at two guineas each and prizes valued at £77,000, even producing a smaller edition of The Temple of Flora as a lottery prize. Sadly it ended in failure, and when Thornton died in 1837, his family was destitute.
Today, the Temple of Flora is generally held to be one of the finest illustrated botanical works ever produced and is a splendid testament to the passion of Robert Thornton.
William Jones & Co
Standard Uniforms & Patterns, circa 1886
During The Napoleonic Wars an obsession arose in military style and uniforms amongst the warring nations of Europe, a legacy that is reflected in all aspects of men’s attire today from the three piece suit to the lace up shoe. With the defeat of Napoleon English tailors surpassed their continental colleagues in part assisted by earlier pioneers in men’s style such as George ‘Beau’ Brummel, late of the Royal Hussars and creator of the Regency silhouette.
In the latter part of the 19th century William Jones & Co were the leading suppliers of military uniforms, accoutrements, cap badges and swords. This unusual folio issued around 1886 exemplifies the very best of bespoke military tailoring whilst capturing the depth of colour and intricacy in design that could be achieved with fine chromolithographs.
Les Affiches Illustrés, 1896 and Les Affiches étrangères illustrées, 1897
Known as the father of the modern poster, Jules Cheret was also in his time referred to as the father of female liberation. From his studio in Paris he offered a different vision of women, reflecting the increasing changes in aspirations at a time when women were still unable to vote. Cheret’s studies of fashionable women soon became a familiar and much admired aspect of the streets of Paris, and are in part credited with the less constrained atmosphere in Paris for women. Known as Cherettes, elegant, exuberant and often daring, these figures influenced an entire generation of women who previously had been limited to two dimensional representations – puritan or prostitute. Cheret was instrumental in changing the way in which women were depicted, and increasingly the imagery became more dynamic.
The London Magazine
The London Magazine, or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligence was founded in 1732 to rival the Gentleman’s Magazine, or Trader’s Monthly Intelligencer, which had been founded the year before. These ‘magazines’, a new term, were much broader in their scope than the current periodicals, and were a source of domestic and foreign affairs, political commentary, art, literature, history, science and numerous miscellaneous subjects. The readership was also broader, appealing to a burgeoning middle class, with participation encouraged via submissions and contests.
The three colonial panoramas below are rare examples of the illustrations that accompanied the London Magazine, and some of the earliest views available to the collector.
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The Winning Post, Vanity Fair, 1888
The Sport of Kings was brought to Great Britain by the Romans and developed considerably over the centuries. Initially owners, the majority of whom were aristocratic, rode their own horses but as racing became more organised increasingly employed their grooms to ride. The first formal race was held at Newmarket in the reign of Charles II, and more racecourses soon followed including Ascot in 1711. By the mid-19th century, racing was entrenched as a national event and jockeys, once little more than servants, were elevated in prominence to appear with the great and the good in the society magazine Vanity Fair.
Liborio Prosperi, an Italian caricaturist who specialised in racing, drew his fantasy race with eight of 1888’s most successful jockeys, amassing 615 wins between them including the 108 wins of that year’s Champion Jockey, Fred Barrett. To the left are course judge and designer, John Clark and one of the greatest patrons of the turf, Sir John Astley.
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Zoological Sketches, 1861
Joseph Wolf was one of the most accomplished natural history artists working in London during the mid-19th century. Wolf’s Zoological Sketches were commissioned by the Zoological Society of London and published in parts from 1856-67 to provide a record of the rare species living in the society’s Vivarium.
Wolf was particularly noted for his explorations of animals and birds in relation to environment and his treatment of his subject as distinct and individual rather than an exemplar of species or extension of human sentiment. He set his subjects within a natural habitat albeit romanticised for dramatic effect. These original colour lithographs are an enduring testament to a passionate and lyrical talent heralded by critics and colleagues alike as the ‘greatest living animal painter’.
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Frederick Trench
Thames Views, 1825
Commissioned by Lt Col Trench to illustrate his proposals for the re-designing of the Embankment, these superbly detailed and annotated views were executed by the watercolourist Thomas Mann Baynes with the printing entrusted to the celebrated master of early lithography, Charles Hullmandel. Hullmandel’s skillful handling of the medium was much appreciated by contemporaries and was of great importance in popularising lithography as a printing method; he was instrumental in introducing lithography into England and to this day his work ranks with the finest of any period.
Although Trench submitted his plans to Parliament in 1825, it was not for another forty years that his proposals were executed. The Embankment as it is today still corresponds closely to Trench’s designs.
Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution, with details of the work itself. For enquiries and purchases, please do contact us.