Thornton Pl. 31, The Sacred Egyptian Bean

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    Hand-colored engraving, 1797-1810
    22" x 17 1/2" (approximate)
    1802 Watermark


    Thornton Pl. 31, The Sacred Egyptian Bean

    Original Antique Print

    22" x 17 1/2" (approximate)
    1797—1810
    Hand-colored engraving

    Temple of Flora

    Dr. Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora, 1798—1810, the third and final part of his New illustration of the sexual system of Carolus von Linnaeus, is perhaps the single most famous of all florilegia. The driving force and visionary behind the creation of this great work, Dr. Robert Thornton employed other artists and engravers to produce it. Printed in color and finished by hand, a variety of techniques were used, including aquatint, mezzotint, stipple, and line engraving. Most plates were altered at various points, resulting in as many as four distinct states for some images.

    Dr. Robert Thornton (c. 1768—1837) intended to issue 70 plates dramatically and poetically illustrating Linnaeus’ discoveries about the sexual system of plants. In actuality, only 33 plates were completed before the well-stationed physician faced financial ruin. The project fell victim to Dr. Robert Thornton’s fanatical attention to detail and changing tastes of a social elite, who had become somewhat jaded by the preponderance of great flower books created during this period. When Thornton died in 1837 his family was nearly destitute. Despite his setbacks, Dr. Robert Thornton’s epic depictions of flowers are celebrated as one of the most significant artistic contributions to botanical art of that period.

    References: Wilfred Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, 1994, p. 203; Gordon Dunthorne, Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and early 19th centuries,1970, page 250.

    Every antique work of art that you purchase at our gallery or on our website is guaranteed to be authentic and of the finest quality. All of our prints include any conservation work required to assure that your acquisition is archivally stable and will last for generations when cared for properly.

    Click here for more Thornton prints from Temple of Flora