Priscilla Susan Bury, Pl. 22 Daric Red Crinum, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, 1831–34, hand-colored aquatint engraving

$3,950 this week only (list price $6,000). Offer expires 7-24-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

Priscilla Susan Bury, Pl. 22 Daric Red Crinum, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants1831–34hand-colored aquatint engraving

This week only, enjoy a substantial discount on Pl. 22, Daric Red Crinum, Crinum cruentum (title on plate), Bot. Reg. 171, an exquisite hand-colored aquatint engraving after the watercolor drawing by Mrs. Edward Bury, from her celebrated work, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae. The folio was engraved and hand-colored by Robert Havell, Jr, the same engraver who produced the plates for John James Audubon’s monumental Birds of America.

inventive use of composition show this particularly large crinum in the size of life within its elephant folio size sheet and represent its most characteristic and beautiful features to scientifically identify the plant. Employing strong, simple, almost graphic shapes and a clean palette predominately in shades of green, lavender pink, and yellow, Bury depicted the graceful curve of the tip of the Daric Red Crinum's five-foot long leaf as it winds up and behind the unique form of its ornamental flower, adding a dynamic dimension to this dramatic composition. 

In the accompanying text, she provides a comprehensive description of this rare and beautiful specimen. 

"Flower-stem two feet and a half to the spathe, rising from the side of the mass of foliage, but within one or two of the outside leaves; smooth, not glaucous, compressed and solid; of a clear bright green, paler near the bulb. Spathe thick and fleshy, dividing into two leaf-like segments, darkish green outside, paler within. Flower sessile, each with long narrow bracte, resembling the spathe in colour and substance. Tube of the flower from seven to eight inches, light green; petals purple, strap-shaped, of equal breadths, and strongly clawed at the points; pistil and filaments purple, pistil generally, but not invariably, longer than the filaments—anthers dark brown, covered with dark yellow pollen—leaves five feet long, ribbed, slightly channeled, and tapering very much towards the joints. this Crinum was first flowered by Mr. Herbert [British botanist William Herbert, 1778–1847], who imported it from the East Indies, and it is still a scarce plant—the present specimen flowered in the Liverpool Botanic Garden; the bulb is very much elongated at the neck, and so scaly as almost to lose the character of a true bulb, dark brown, raising itself almost entirely above the soil, and throwing out thick, tuberous, fleshy roots on every side."

Wilfred Blunt, author of The Art of Botanical Illustration, writes, “Mrs. Edward Bury…was the artist of the impressive Selection of Hexandrian Plants (1831–34), certainly one of the most effective color-plate folios of its period…. The “Hexandrian” flowers—lilies, crinums, pancratiums and hippeastriums—are executed in fine-grained aquatint, partly printed in colour, and retouched by hand.”

In his work, Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and early nineteenth centuries (1970), Gordon Dunthorne refers to Bury prints from this folio as "Finely coloured plates of perfect technique, very decorative and "modern" in feeling, of amaryllis, crinum, pancratium and lilies. Some plates show the bulb and stalk, leaves and blossom."  

In perfect condition with pristine color and large margins. Drawn by Mrs. E. Bury, Liverpool. Engraved, printed, and colored by R. Havell, London. Prints are elephant folio size, 23.75 x 19 inches.

$3,950 this week only (list price $6,000). Offer expires 7-24-17.

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Mrs. Edward Bury (c. 1799–1870), née Priscilla Susan Falkner, was the daughter of a well-placed family. Exotic plants were grown in the hot houses at her family’s estate, Fairfield, near Liverpool, where as a young girl, she began painting flowers. The Victorian tradition viewed women illustrating flowers as “genteel, diverting and instructive study [so] that the fair sex could find amusement….” The talented Bury’s “Hexandrian” watercolor flower “portraits”, as she called them, were of lilies, crinums, pancratiums, and hippeastrums.

Bury was encouraged in her botanical painting pursuits by a local botanist, William Rowe, and her distinguished friends, the zoologist William Swainson and William Roscoe. She also received technical expertise from the staff at the Liverpool Botanical Gardens. Unlike her contemporaries, Pierre-Joseph Redouté or Pierre-Antoine Poiteau, Bury was not trained as a botanist or artist, yet she occupies a singular position in botanical art.

Her remarkable contribution, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae, depicts flowers with six stamens. Of elephant-size, it is the largest scale, most unusual and rarest of all nineteenth-century botanicals. Comprised of 51 aquatint engravings produced in ten parts from 1831 to 1834 by renowned London engraver, Robert Havell, Jr., these rich aquatint engravings are partly printed in color and partly hand-colored. Also the publisher of this work, Havell produced Bury’s folio at the same time that he was engraving Audubon’s plates. John James Audubon was listed among the subscribers to this splendid nineteenth-century botanical folio. Only 80 subscriptions were sold.

References: Wilfred Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, 1994, p. 248–50; Gordon Dunthorne, Flower and Fruit Prints, 1970, pages 77, 184.

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

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