Lectures on Botany, as Delivered in the Botanic Garden at Lambeth.
Seller ID: 769
London: H.D. Symons and Curtis, 1805. First edition (frontis, 131,114, 63). Three volumes bound as one, tall octavo in fancy old calf, gilt decoration and titles. Illustrated with 119 full-page, hand-coloured plates by Edwards (del.) and Sansom (sculp.). Also included is 'Sketch of the Life and Writings of the Late William Curtis' by Thornton (33). With the bookplate of [Sir] Henry Francis Redhead Yorke, O.B., (1850- 1914). Some off-setting of the illustrations which are not tissue-guarded and occasional foxing generally not affecting the illustrations; tips and edges worn. William Curtis (1746- 1799) is best known for his Flora Londinensis (1777) which set out to describe the plant life to be found within ten miles of London (an ambition taken up several decades later in Philadelphia by W.P.C. Barton and published as Flora Philadelphicae, 1815) and the Botanical Magazine or Flower-Garden Displayed, an exceptionally successful venture which began publication in 1787 and continues to this day. A great part of the artistic merit found in Curtis' work can be attributed to the vibrant illustrations produced by such talented and skilled illustrators as James Sowerby and Sydenham Edwards (as in this case). Curtis knew his readership, or his market, and the success of Curtis' Botanical Magazine is due in large part to presenting the reader with beautifully detailed accounts of 'the most Ornamental Foreign Plants' and not, as in the commercially moribund Flora Londinensis, with descriptions of ordinary native plants (mere 'weeds'), however handsomely portrayed. The three-volume Lectures on Botany, here bound as one volume, comprises descriptions of a plant's structure (their seeds, roots, stalks, simple or compound leaves, fruiting bodies), the method of its classification as determined by the form of its flowers, a separate account of a variety of grasses, and suggestions for the cultivation of plants in general. The hand-coloured lithographs, more than a hundred, exhibit draughtsmanship of the highest order. See Sitwell for more on these matters. A particularly pleasing copy.
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