EDWARDS, John (b.1742). A Collection of Flowers drawn after Nature, & disposed in an Ornamental & Picturesque Manner. [London: 1783-1795].
2° (510 x 344mm). Engraved throughout. Decorative pictorial title with oval paper lettering slip pasted in place and manuscript 'imprint' dated 25 January 1784, 79 FINE HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVED PLATES BY EDWARDS. EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 2 HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVINGS BY C.A.EDWARDS, AND 16 ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS (3 MOUNTED TO SIZE) BY JAMES BOLTON, GEORG DIONYSIUS EHRET, J.[?ACOBUS] VAN HUYSUM AND OTHERS. (Title creased, affected by damp throughout: about 29 plates and 5 of the drawings with smudged colouring, 2 plates and 5 drawings with the colouring rubbed, some other leaves cockled.) Contemporary green straight-grained morocco gilt, covers with ruled and roll-tooled decorative border, spine in seven compartments with double-raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, the others with repeat decorative design made up from various small tools, gilt turn-ins, g.e. (extremities scuffed, some old staining to leather). Provenance: Wentworth Henry Canning, 2nd Viscount Allendale (1890-1956, armorial bookplate).
A UNIQUE COPY OF A 'SUBERB AND VERY RARE WORK BY A GREAT ARTIST, WHOSE CRAFTSMANSHIP IS EQUAL TO THE BEST OF THE 18TH CENTURY': (Dunthorne). The plates fall into two main categories. There are 12 plates of 'designs' with a floral theme, and 67 plates of more straight-forward botanical subjects, either single sprays or small bouquets, often tied with ribbon. 34 of the plates show the subjects within ovals defined by a bodycolour border, 42 have simple lined borders. The three largest plates have no borders and include the work's masterpiece, plate 24 Eastern Poppy; this plate alone justifies Dunthorne's assertion. Edwards, one of the most notable English botanical artists of the 18th century, exhibited widely in London between 1763 and 1812, and was also well-known as an artist for the calico-printing industry.
The extra-illustrations include work by an interesting selection of 18th-century botanical artists, including perhaps the greatest, and certainly one of the most influential: Georg Dionysius Ehret. The illustrations comprise a pair of circular prints of flowers in a basket by C.A.EDWARDS, published 1 Jan. 1792; three 18th-century bodycolour drawings on vellum by the same (unidentified) ?continental hand, each approx. 255 x 185mm., of single sprays of a double Moss Rose, a purple bearded Iris and a double pink Hollyhock (the first two including insects) (all three detached from their wash and ruled mounts); 6 watercolours, signed and inscribed by James BOLTON, five dated 1785, each within an ink-ruled border, of a red Amaryllis Lily, three Narcissi, two purple and white Tulips, a white/pink Christmas rose plant, a pink Peony spray, a small bouquet formed from a Fritillary, a Snowdrop and an Anemone. (The first, third, fourth and fifth drawings all with obvious damp damage); 4 watercolours, signed and inscribed by Georg Dioysius EHRET, of Lauro-Cerasus (signature partially excised), Myrtus; balsamica, Cistus; Ladanifera, and an untitled drawing of two leafy sprays from an unidentified shrub also showing the flowers and fruit (light damage to the colouring of the first drawing); 3 watercolours, signed J.van HUYSUM, of a dark pink Hibiscus, a light pink Hibiscus, and an unidentified flowering leafy spray (the signatures cropped, damage to colouring of all three, the second with extensive damage).
The binding, although unsigned, is clearly the work of a major London binder, probanly Christian Kalthober or Staggemeier & Welcher. If the binding is strictly contemporary (i.e. before 1800) then it is more probably the work of Kalthober, if after 1800 then Staggemeier & Welcher seem more likely.
Nissen BBI 579; Henrey III. 673; Great Flower Books p.56; Dunthorne 105.