Robert James Thornton, 1811. unbound. Mezzotint, aquatint, and stipple engraving. Image measures 11" x 7.25". Sheet measures 16" x 12.5"
This lovely print of Tankerville's Limodorum, a species of purple orchid, comes from the quarto edition of Thornton's famous "Temple of Flora." Thornton has here depicted the flower, commonly known as the Violet Limodore, against a blue, almost stormy background, lending the plant's bowing shape a dramatic tone. In the far distance, a small village can be seen nestled among the foggy mountains. The delicate colors of he pink and ref flowers are due to the intaglio method of printing, which combined mezzotint, aquatint, line, and stipple engraving, finished with watercolor. "The Temple of Flora" was a collection of 32 large-scale floral prints which Robert James Thornton first issued in 1803. While considered a masterpiece today, it 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. This the print is from the smaller-scale quarto edition issued in 1811. It is in good condition, with slight browning and chips on the edges of the margins, not affecting the image. Minor offsetting also in the margins. 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.