antique prints, maps and watercolors

(Water Lily) Temple of Flora. London, 1812. $1,200.00

photo of print thorntonblueevlg.jpg

"The Blue Egyptian Water Lily"                        

Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora is one of the most famous botanical books ever produced.  Although he was trained as a physician, Thornton decided to create an ambitious series of botanical publications dedicated to the work of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.  Linnaeus had revolutionized the world of science in 1735 by developing an entirely new classification system for plants and animals.   Thornton's botanical work was to be a "pictorial celebration" in poetry and verse of the botanical system created by Lineaus.

Thornton chose botanical specimens and placed each in a exotic and romantic setting, caring much more about the aesthetic and symbolic impact of his work than botanical accuracy.  He hired the finest aquatint artists, engravers and colorists to produce a series of twenty-eight folio sized plates.  These were the illustrations for his Temple of Flora,  on which he lavished so much time and money that he exhausied his fortune on the books' publication.

This engraving is from a smaller second edition Thornton produced in 1812.  As his large first edition failed to make a profit or impress the scientific community, his hope was to make a profit with an equally beautiful yet more affordable edition.  Sadly his efforts did not meet with financial success in his own time. How ironic that these prints are now some of the most highly sought by modern day collectors!

Aquatinted engraving with full original color.
Excellent condition.
Framed in beautiful and appropriate gold leaf frame with fabric wrapped mat.
Finished size of 18 x 14 1/2 inches, overall.