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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Viridarium Novum

A Little Book of Nature

'New little book of flowers, in it all kinds of beautiful flowers, also fruits and little animals, which are very useful to painters, silk embroiderers, goldsmiths and similar artists and are especially useful for travelling. Engraved in copperplate in honor of all art-lovers, published in Nuremberg 1652 in the publishing house of Paulus Fürst, art dealer.' (Thanks Maren!)

So I suppose we can dub this sweet little album something of a (late) 'copybook' or 'model book': a drawing source for artists in various trades. And that's about as much as I've been able to find out about this publication.

Fürst's name pops up around the traps as a publisher and seller of pamphlets, broadsheets, books and copper engravings, but there's no particular association with natural history or botanical drawings to provide guidance here. There are twenty plates in total in 'Viridarium Novum' plus a titlepage containing text in both Latin and German.

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A cropped version of the titlepage appears below. I would have expected to see such a scene a hundred years before this book's publication; it looks like a Kerbl Bamboo Nest for Exotic Birds, 12 x 11 cm print to my ignorant eye. Perhaps the book was copied, or the publisher was trying to imply a great depth of history and knowledge behind it? There endeth my speculation. Nevertheless, it's cute; it deserved a post.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

All Hail Lord Carrington!

Illuminated Appreciation Albums

From 1885 to 1890 Lord Carrington was a popular Governor of NSW. He and his wife were held in such high regard by the people of NSW that a grand series of presentation albums was created by various community associations and districts to honour their service and bid them farewell when they returned to England at the end of their tenure. The Carrington Albums, as they have come to be known, were sent back to Australia in recent years by a Buckinghamshire (UK) library that housed the series on behalf of Lord Carrington's descendants. NSW State Records has digitised and placed online a number of the illuminated albums. The pages seen below come from volume 14 (they were the largest images from the available albums).
"This ‘most auspicious’ appointment [of Lord Carrington] attracted much ceremony in NSW and as a consequence saw the creation of highly decorative illuminated addresses and photograph albums to be officially presented to he Governor. During his time as Governor of NSW it was said Lord Carrington, aided by his wife, re-established the opulence of Government House and the grandeur of the office of Governor.

Upon conclusion of his time as Governor, Sydney gave Lord and Lady Carrington an unprecedented farewell, with thousands lining the streets and showering their carriage with flowers. In a parting speech, Carrington declared they were 'guests who found their welcome at once an adoption, and whose farewell leaves half their hearts behind’."
The illuminated addresses were produced by watercolour artists from at least one Sydney publishing firm, John Sands Ltd^. There is a definite attempt to decorate the locality-based addresses with flora associated with the particular district, but enough poetic license taken at times that we can conclude that natural history accuracy was not as important in the creative process as aesthetic qualities. Consequently, there are said to be some 'imaginary' plants visible among the known natives.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Military ABC Book

'Armée Française : Nouvel Alphabet Militaire'
Text by Pierre Léon Vanier
Illustrations by Henri de Sta

This 1880s book - obviously aimed at young people - offers satirical portrayals of various branches and uniforms of the French military and each chromolithograph is accompanied by a page of descriptive text.

A is for Artillery

B is for Brigadier

C is for Cuirassier^

D is for Dragoon^

G is for Gendarme

J is for Justice and Order

K is for Képi^

O is for Officer

Q is for Quartier Maitre (A marine)

R is for Reservist

V is for Vaguemestre (Military Postmaster)

X is for X. Polytechnicien 
[graduate of École polytechnique (aka: X), a higher ed facility near Paris]

Y is for (?) Commander of supply lines (road or rail trains)

Z is for Zouave^

Biographical quote from LAMBIEK site: "French illustrator Henri de Sta was born in Versailles as Arsène Henri Saint-Alary. He began his career around 1882 with La Vie Artistique and the publishing house of Léon Vanier. Coming from a family of militaries, garrison life became a regular theme in his career. De Sta worked as a humorous illustrator for Le Chat Noir since 1892. He was also present in Le Paris Bouffon (1885), Le Rire (1897) and Le Charivari (1900). He composed military alphabets, illustrated songs and produced comics for La Chronique Amusante from 1896, and for Les Contes Moraux et Merveilleux of the printing firm Pellerin d'Epinal."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Humble Heather

Early 19th century hand-coloured
engravings of heath flowers

The vast majority of the 860+ species in the genus Erica (heaths/heather) are endemic to southern Africa. Plants from this genus don't respond well to being dug up and relocated and very few specimens were seen in Europe before the late 1700s. Discovery voyages eventually included botanists and specialist plant collectors and handlers. They could successfully preserve, dry or nurture Erica species and their parts, enabling samples to survive the rigours of a three month sea voyage to Europe.

An indication of the proliferation over time of African species of heather in Europe can be seen in this graph of ~publications on Erica species. The first large peak corresponds to the array of heath plants described in the book series from which the illustration plates below were selected.

By way of clarification: the Ericaceae family consists of two very similar genera: Erica (aka winter heather; and more likely called heath) and Calluna (aka summer heather, consisting of one species, Calluna vulgaris, from which the many popular heather varietals - domestic shrubs - have been bred). The species depicted below are from the Erica genus.

'Coloured Engravings of Heaths' by HC Andrews is a 4-volume series from the early 19th century (seen below), and is particularly noteworthy because the author is believed to have also taken on the roles of artist, engraver, publisher and hand-colourist. That level of multi-tasking is fairly rare in the world of scientific publishing, at least in my experience.
"This work exemplifies the 'Erica-mania' that dominated English horticulture at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Numerous newly discovered South African species were being introduced through the enterprise of nurserymen like Lee and Kennedy^, and several hundred species and varieties were available and in cultivation." [source]

Erica savileia

Erica racemifera

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Erica primuloides

Erica pinifolia discolor

Erica mutabilis

Erica mucronata

Erica kibbertia

Erica hirta, var viridiflora

Erica erubescens

Erica emarginata

Erica elegans

Erica echiiflora

Erica densa

Erica decora

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Erica clavata

Erica calycina major

Erica aurea, flore pallida

Erica aspera

Erica aristata

The full title of Henry Charles Andrews' publication is: 'Coloured Engravings of Heaths. The drawings taken from living plants only. With the appropriate specific character, full description, native place of growth, and time of flowering of each; in Latin and English. Each figure accompanied by accurate dissections of the several parts (magnified where necesary) upon which the specific distinction has been founded, according to the Linnæan system'. It appears Andrews was author-publisher of some six or eight botanical works in total (including a few multi-volume series); most on Erica/heath species, together with monographs on some rare plants and flowers. His name(s) make(s) tracking down his publishing record difficult to say the least.
"'Coloured Engravings of Heaths' published between 1794 and 1830 is regarded as the most significant work of the botanical artist Henry Charles Andrews {fl. 1784-1830) (Cleevely & Oliver 2002). He has always been something of an enigma. His dates of birth and death have not been discovered. His family background is obscure, apart from a link to the nurseryman John Kennedy (1759-1842) through his marriage to ^Kennedy's daughter, Anne (b. 1784). For much of his life Andrews lived in London, and judging by his numerous business addresses between 1813 and 1825, was rather unsettled. He described himself as ''Botanical printer and engraver" but from the evidence of a paper slip^ preserved in one copy of Coloured engravings he had another occupation, for this announced that 'H. Andrews respectfully informs the nobility. Gentry &c. that he continues to Teach DRAWING and COLOURING correctly from Nature, ETCHING, &c on the most reasonable terms.' " [source]