Brookshaw Pl. 27, Johnson’s Late Purple Peach; unnamed peach of Mr Hadley’s; Violette Hative or Early Violette
Original Antique Print
23" x 18 1/2" (approximate)
Aquatint and stipple engraving with hand-coloring
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—1812. Comprising 90 aquatint engravings, including 256 depictions of British fruit, after paintings by George Brookshaw. Published in London and engraved by R. Brookshaw and H. Merke.
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.
In 1777, Brookshaw moved from Birmingham to London and began a celebrated career building fine cabinets detailed with hand-painted botanical and pomological motifs. Shortly afterward, 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 Birmingham Cathedral. In his cabinet-making shop, Brookshaw also offered lessons in flower painting to ‘Ladies of Taste and Fashion’.
During the mid 1790s, it appears his furniture-making business went bankrupt, and he led his life under an assumed name, G. Brown. In 1991, Lucy Wood wrote two articles in which she drew the connection between G. Brown and George Brookshaw. During his years of anonymity, Brookshaw 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.
In Flower and Print Books of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, Gordon Dunthorne extolls the virtues of George 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, George 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.”
References: Sacheverell Sitwell, Great Flower Books 1700—1900; Flower and Print Books of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, Gordon Dunthorne, 1938, pages 179—180.
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