BAUER, FRANZ ANDREAS. Delineations of Exotick Plants cultivated in the Royal Garden at Kew...Published by W.T. Aiton. [Parts I and II only (of 3)]. London: W. Bulmer for George Nicol, 1796 [-1797].
2 fascicles, broadsheet folio, 620 x 480 mm., original blue sugarpaper over pasteboards, printed label on each upper cover, uncut, backs crudely reinforced with plastic adhesive tape, edges and corners worn, very pale and inoffensive foxing to sheets in first fascicle.
FIRST EDITION, Part I one of 90 copies (of which 10 copies were spoilt), Part II one of 80 copies [Part III, lacking here, was published in 50 copies only]. 20 engraved and etched plates by Mackenzie after F.A. Bauer, colored by hand.
"The greatest botanical artist of all time" according to Blunt, who added that only in this work can "we appreciate the force of his draughtsmanship." Francis Masson collected the specimens, all of Ericaceae from Cape Colony, for Kew Gardens. Sir Joseph Banks is the anonymous author of the preface (the sole text in the work) and his eloquent restraint is worth quoting: "It will appear singular, at first sight, that engravings of plants should be published without the addition of botanical descriptions of their generic and specific characters; but it is hoped, that every Botanist will agree, when he has examined the plates with attention, that it would have been an useless task to have compiled, and a superfluous expence to have printed, any kind of explanation concerning them; each figure is intended to answer itself every question a Botanist can wish to ask, respecting the structure of the plant it represents; the situation of the leaves and flowers are carefully imitated, and the shape of each is given in a magnified, as well as in a natural size. The internal structure of the flower, respecting the shape and the comparative size of its component parts, is also, in all cases, carefully displayed...".
Dunthorne 28; Great Flower Books, p. 49; Henrey II, pp.253-254 and III, no. 437; Hunt 747 ("This is without doubt one of the most beautifully illustrated flower books"); Nissen BBI 97; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 363.
Provenance: Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 27 April 1987, lot 16, unsold. (2)