JACQUIN, Nikolaus Joseph, Baron von. Plantarum rariorum Horti Caesarei Schoenbrunnensis Descriptiones et Icones. Vienna: C. F. Wappler; London: B. & J. White; Leiden: S. & J. Luchtmans, 1797-1804.
4 volumes bound in 3, 2o (Vols I.-III: 466 x 329 mm; Vol. IV: 470 x 285 mm). 499 (of 500) hand-colored engraved plates, some folding, after Johann Scharf and Martin Sedelmayer (without plate 433 ["Aloe plicatilis"], some occasional minor marginal damsptaining, some occasional slight bleeding of colors, occasional light offsetting from text; water damage heavier in the fourth volume, with colors bleeding on approximately 20 plates). First two volumes bound in contemporary diced russia (first vol. rebacked; second vol. with covers detached); third volume in contemporary half calf, marbled boards (rebacked, worn). Provenance: Westdean Library (bookplate in vols. I and II); Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Stickney Fund (bookplate dated 1877; stamps).
"JACQUIN'S GREATEST WORK ON CULTIVATED FLOWERS" (Blunt and Stearn, p.177).
FIRST EDITION, NUMBER 68 OF FEWER THAN 200 COPIES. Most of the species depicted, all plants growing in the Schönbrunn Botanic gardens, are rare and exotic, and many are South African. Under Jacquin's direction the royal garden at Schönbrunn had become the most celebrated botanical garden of the time. Following a severe frost in the winter of 1780 which destroyed many of the more fragile tropical and semi-tropical plants, two of the Schönbrunn gardeners were sent to Mauritius and South Africa to collect new specimens. One of them, Georg Schall, stayed there for 12 years, sending off regular shipments of plants to Vienna -- hence the predominance of South African species in this and others of Jacquin's works in this period. After losing Ferdinand Bauer to Sibthorp and his brother Franz to sheer Wanderlust, Jacquin took on a young draughtsman named Johann Scharf, whom he trained in botany, the use of a microscope, and the techniques of botanical drawing. Scharf was unfortunately tubercular and died in 1794, having completed only about 180 of the drawings for the Hortus Schoenbrunnensis; Sedelmayer, one of Jacquin's many colorists, was charged with completing the work.
Complete copies are SCARCE. Only the de Belder copy has appeared at auction in the last thirty years (sold Sotheby's London, 27 April 1987, lot 182; sold again Christie's New York, 4 June 1997, lot 80). Dunthorne 156; Great Flower Books, p. 61; Nissen BBI 978; Pritzel 4372; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 3255 ("the history of the book merits further investigation").