George Brookshaw, Pl. 27 Johnson's Late Purple Peach, Pomona Britannica, 1804–12, hand-colored engraving
Lend timeless grace to your home with Plate 27 Plate 27 Johnson's Late Purple Peach, unnamed peach of Mr. Hadley's; Violette Hative or Early VioletteJohnson's Late Purple Peach, unnamed peach of Mr. Hadley's; Violette Hative or Early Violette , a stunning hand-colored aquatint engraving from George Brookshaw’s masterful 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.
One can almost smell the ripe peaches just looking at this beautiful plate. Representing subtle differences in three varieties of peaches, and the leaves and flower blossoms that identify them, this sumptuous symmetrical and formal composition depicts peaches in luminous color on a dynamic, velvety brown and tan diagonally divided background. Hinting at the horticultural rivalry between France and Great Britain at this time, in The horticultural repository..., published posthumously in the spring of 1823, Brookshaw states that Johnson's late Purple Peach "was first reared by the person whose name it bears, a gardener to Mr. Methuel, of Kew Green, and affords sufficient proof that we can produce as fine peaches in this country as they can in France; it is equal, if not superior, in richness of flavour, to the very best French Peaches. Johnson's Peach colours of a very dark purply tint, and a crimson red underneath, with dark broad spots.... The coat of this peach is very wooly, so that it may be easily distinguished from any other kind of peach; it has a fine serrated leaf, a small blossom, and ripens about the end of August."
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. In Aquatint Engravings, Brookshaw’s Pomona Britannica is described by S. T. Prideaux 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.”
Published by the artist on July 1st 1804, superb color, large folio size: 23.75 x 17.75 inches.
$2,250 this week only (list price $3,500). Offer expires 5-1-17.
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)
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