antique prints, maps and watercolors

Simphytum. Flora Londinensis, London: 1777-98. $275.00

Symphytum officinale

William Curtis (1749-99) grew up in Hampshire, England where he
received training as an apothecary but his passion for plants prompted him to devote his life to the study of botany. He sold his apothecary business and used the proceeds to create the spectacular garden which became the inspiration for his famous botanical works. Curtis produced accurate and beautiful botanical drawings so finely wrought that they brought him to the attention of prominent naturalists. In 1773 he was appointed Demonstrator of Botany and Praefecturs Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden where he cultivated many thousands of species of plants, However, British flora remained his primary interest and in 1777 he began work on Flora Londinensis with the goal of depicting all of the plants that grew within a ten mile radius of London. He used unusually large copper plates and paper in order to capture every species in its actual size so the work was a costly undertaking. After completing 434 magnificent plates, financial constraints forced Curtis to discontinue publication. Fortunately, he then began work on a smaller format publication known as The Botanical Magazine. The extremely high quality magazine, with its exquisite smaller hand colored engravings, was so successful that even after William Curtis died, his family continued publication into the 1940's!

19 x 11 5/8 inches, sheet.
Hand colored engravings.
Excellent condition.