George Brookshaw, Pl. 27 Johnson's Late Purple Peach, Pomona Brittanica, 1804–12, hand-colored engraving

$2,250 this week only (list price $3,500). Offer expires 5-1-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

George Brookshaw, Pl. 61 Grapes—Lady Bathurst's Tokay, Pomona Brittanica, 1804–12, hand-colored engraving

Lend timeless grace to your home with Plate 61 Grapes–Lady Bathurst’s Tokay, a masterful hand-colored aquatint engraving from George Brookshaw’s exquisite folio on fruit, Pomona Britannica, or a Collection of the Most Esteemed Fruits at present cultivated in the country; together with the Blossoms and Leaves of such as are necessary to distinguish the various sorts from each other. Engraved by R. Brookshaw and H. Merke.

An anecdotal review of Tokay wines, which were first grown in the region of Tokay, Hungary, appeared in an article titled The Tokay Wine in The Atheneum; Spirit of English Magazines, published in Boston in 1819.

“The Hungarians are so proud of their vines that they even grant them titles of nobility. They pretend that they are descended the vines of the Romans planted in Ilyria; others maintain that they are the vines of Formiae, celebrated by Horace. But it is needless to trace the grapes of Tokay to this high origin; for their real merit is indisputable, and it has already been acknowledged in full council. At Trente in 1562, the prelates of Italy were all boasting of the wines of their respective countries. George Drascowich, archbishop of Tolsocza, maintained that Hungary produced the best. At this the prelates laughed. The Hungarian  archbishop then ordered some of the Tallia-Mada wine [a variety of Tokay]  to be presented to them. They all acknowledged its superiority; and the Pope, when he tasted it, loudly proclaimed its pre-eminence over all the wine in the world.”

Usually produced from white grapes, Tokay wine became popular in England during the mid-seventeenth century. Grapes–Lady Bathurst’s Tokay depicts a vine of deep purple grapes silhouetted against a warm background, accentuating the form and cool colors of the grapes.

In Flower and Print Books of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, Gordon Dunthorne extolls the virtues of Brookshaw’s large folio edition. “One of the eminent English  artists of the early nineteenth century is George Brookshaw, who issued in 1812, Pomona Britannica. Ninety aquatint plates, printed in colour and on a scale comparable to Thornton’s Temple of Flora, depict the fruit grown around London and particularly in the royal gardens at Hampton Court. Brookshaw’s Pomona Britannica is described by Prideaux in Aquatint Engravings as “one of the finest colour plate books in existence.” In many of these plates the lovely mellow tones of the fruit glow against the dark or light brown backgrounds.”

Brookshaw prints are large folio size: 25 x 18 inches.

 $1,450 this week only (list price $2,200). Offer expires 2-5-17.

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George Brookshaw (1751–1823) was born in Birmingham, England where he was apprenticed to Samuel Troughton (d. 1783), a Birmingham painter and japanner. According to a recent blog post related to St. Philips Cathedral, Birmingham, England, entitled In Search of Sobieski Brookshaw, by Gill Partridge, he may have received some art training from his father, also named George Brookshaw, who is listed as an engraver in a document dated 1751. George Brookshaw’s brother, Richard Brookshaw (1736 – c.1804) was a portrait painter and engraver well versed in mezzotint and copperplate engraving techniques, and may have instructed his brother as well.

In 1777, George Brookshaw moved from Birmingham to London and began a celebrated career building fine cabinets detailed with hand-painted botanical and pomological motifs. Shortly therefter, in 1778, he married Sobieski Grice (1749–1811), daughter of William Grice, a prosperous gunsmith.The Prince of Wales was the most distinguished of Brookshaw’s well-heeled patrons, and today examples of Brookshaw’s cabinetry may be seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.  According to church records noted in Gill Partridge’s post, both George Brookshaw and Sobieski Grice were baptized at the the Birmingham Cathedral.

In his cabinet-making shop, Brookshaw also offered lessons in flower painting to ‘Ladies of Taste and Fashion’. During the mid 1790s, when it appears his furniture-making business went bankrupt, he led his life under an assumed name, G. Brown. In two articles written by Lucy Wood in 1991, she drew the connection between G. Brown and George Brookshaw. During his years of anonymity he worked as an illustrator of botanical books and gave flower-painting lessons, which may have been his primary source of income. Apparently the marriage dowry he enjoyed while married to Sobieski Grice was lost after their marriage dissolved. Brookshaw returned to public view as the earliest parts of Pomona Britannica were issued.

Pomona Britannica, or a Collection of the Most Esteemed Fruits at present cultivated in the country…selected principally from the royal gardens at Hampton Court…accurately drawn and coloured from nature, with full descriptions was published in London from 1804–12. It comprises 90 aquatint engravings,  including 265 depictions of British fruit, after paintings by George Brookshaw. Published in London and engraved by R. Brookshaw and H. Merke. (Sacheverell Sitwell, Great Flower Books 1700–1900)

further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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