First described by Linnaeus in his Species plantarum (1753) as Cactus grandiflorus, this variety is now known as Selenicereus grandiflorus. The inscription at the foot of the drawing provides references to the cactus in the botanical literature of the time, including Linnaeus's System naturae, 13th ed. (1780) and to Johann Christoph Volkamer's Nürnbergische Hesperides, Oder Gründliche Beschreibung Der Edlen Citronat- Citronen- und Pomerantzen-Früchte (1708).
The inscription also refers to the garden of Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1738-1789), daughter of Queen Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I and sister of Queen Marie-Antoinette. An intelligent and enquiring woman, she was made an abbess first of a convent in Prague and then of one in Klagenfurt, where she was at the centre of an intellectual circle which devoted itself to the study of sciences such as botany, numismatics and mineralogy.
We are grateful to Roy Mottram and Dr. Colin Walker for their assistance in preparing this catalogue note.