Robert James Thornton, 1803. unbound. Mezzotint, aquatint, and stipple engraving with hand coloring. Image measures 19.5" x 13.75"
This lovely print of a group of six carnations in different colors and patterns sets them against a river landscape. A classical-style temple to the right side suggests the Mediterranean region to which it is native. The delicate colors of blue, pink, and orange on the flowers are due to the intaglio method of printing, which combined mezzotint, aquatint, line, and stipple engraving, finished with watercolor. This second state of the image appeared in Robert James Thornton's elephant folio edition of "The Temple of Flora." This collection of 32 large-scale floral prints, while considered a masterpiece today, was ridiculed in its time for its lavishness in comparison to typically more austere botanical imagery. Since then, however, it has become one of the most admired illustrated botanical set ever published in Britain. The print is in good condition, with slight browning on the edges of the margins not affecting the image. Dr. Robert John Thornton (1768-1837) was an English physician and botanical writer. A specialist in medical botany, Thornton dedicated the later part of his life to publishing collections of floral plates. "The Temple of Flora" was the final and most ambitious volume of "A New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnæus," which Thornton commissioned and compiled between 1797 and 1807. This print is a lovely example of his work.