18 December 2002
ELWE, Jan Barend, publisher. Nederlandsch bloemwerk. Door een Gezelschap geleerden. Amsterdam: J.B. Elwe, 1794.
4o (264 x 203 mm). 2-page subscribers list. Engraved title with large hand-colored floral vignette by H.L. Myling after P.T. van Brussel and 53 hand-colored engraved plates. Modern half buckram, marbled boards. Provenance: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, J.D. Williams French Fund (bookplate dated 1907; stamps).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS IMPORTANT AND BEAUTIFUL WORK, ILLUSTRATED WITH "DELIGHTFUL TULIPS, HYACINTHS AND AURICULAS" (Blunt). "A SYMBOL AND REPRESENTATION OF THE ASCENDANCY OF DUTCH NURSERYMAN... AT THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY" (Hunt). The breeding and distribution of tulips, hyacinths and auriculas was the most lucrative area of horticulture during much of the eighteenth century, and by the closing decades the Dutch were the acknowledged leaders in this field. The present work was produced as a sampler of the wide range of varieties that were available, but it also "takes a backward glance at the art of the gardener and the flower-painter of a century and a half earlier... Although the plates vary in quality, as a whole they are charming... Nissen and Plesch... assign the plates to Paul Theodor van Brussel (1754-1795), though he signs only the titlepage bouquet. The three plates at the outset make a pleasing addition to our gallery of named varieties of the double hyacinth... And the named tulips and auriculas are similarly acceptable. Yet the aesthetic delight of the book lies more in its copies of early plates... thirty plates are close copies of those by Nicolas Robert (1614-1685)... in Variae ac multiformes florum species ... (Paris [1660?])" (Hunt). Arnold Arboretum, pp.512-513; Blunt & Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration (1994) p.190; Dunthorne 215; Great Flower Books, p.47; Hunt 733; Nissen BBI 2219.
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