John Fisk Allen (1807-1876)
Victoria Regia, or the Great Water Lily of America. Boston: printed and published for the author, by Dutton & Wentworth, 1854. Large 2 (588 x 460mm). 6 lithographs, printed in colours by Sharp & Son, after William Sharp. Modern green morocco-backed boards, original upper wrapper bound-in.
IN ADDITION TO BEING THE FIRST COLOUR-PRINTED LITHOGRAPHS PRODUCED IN AMERICA, THE 'VICTORIA REGIA' IS ONE OF THE THREE GREAT FOLIO WORKS ON THE AMAZONIAN WATER-LILY, the others being William Jackson Hooker's Description of the Victoria regia, 1874, and John Lindley's Victoria regia', 1837. When the process of chromolithography was first introduced in England and France around 1835, William Sharp was one of the first to experiment with this process. Chromolithography is the printing of images in successive stages of colour. The first experiments in colour lithography used two stones in the creation of an image. The first stone was inked in black and an impression was taken. A second stone inked in colour was then applied to the black and white impression. As chromolithography was refined, an increasing number of colour impressions were utlized. In 1839 Sharp emigrated to America and began work on improving the chromolithographic process. In 1854, the publication of illustrations for John Fisk Allen's Victoria Regia, or the Great Water Lily of America, was completed. To achieve the proper colouration, four separately inked stones were utilized. The resulting images are among the finest chromolithographs produced in America. Norton, Bettina A,. "William Sharp: An Accomplished Lithographer", Art and Commerce: American Prints of the Nineteenth Century., 1975, pp.50-75; Nissen BBI 16; Great Flower Books p.69; Stafleu & Cowan 85.