MARY ELIZABETH ROSENBERG (1820-1914)
Corona Amaryllidacea. Bath: printed and published for the author by C. A. Bartlett, [no date, but 'Advertisement' leaf dated 1839]. 2 (445 x 345mm). Letterpress title (?original upper wrapper), dedication to Lord James O'Brien, 3rd Marquess of Thomond, 'Advertisement' leaf, 8 text leaves. 8 FINE ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS BY MARY ROSENBERG, two initialled by Rosenberg beside neat pen-and-ink captions. (Some light marginal soiling.) Contemporary red blindstamped cloth, red morocco lettering-piece edged and lettered in gilt and mounted on upper cover (covers discoloured, neatly rebacked and cornered, modern endpapers).
A VERY RARE WORK ON LILIES, ONE OF ONLY TWO COPIES RECORDED AT AUCTION THIS CENTURY. THE WORK IS ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF PUBLISHED NATURAL HISTORY WORKS TO HAVE BEEN ILLUSTRATED WITH ORIGINAL WATERCOLOURS. The only other copy to be listed as having appeared at auction was the J. W. Harrison copy, without a title page (Sotheby's, 1 April 1965, lot 897). Great Flower Books cites an 1835 issue with an undated London imprint on the title, recording only two copies. In addition, copies with hand-coloured lithographs by Rosenberg are recorded at the Natural History Museum in London and the Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington. The amount of work involved in producing works illustrated with watercolours is daunting, and seems to have acted as a successful deterrent to all but a few natural history artists, the most famous of which are probably Mrs Bowdich and William Lewin. Miss Rosenberg was also from an artistic background. Her father, Thomas, died young, but was a miniature and landscape painter of note based in Bath. Her sister Frances (d.1872) was elected a member of the New Water-Colour Society at an early age. Her brother George (b.1825), a flower and landscape painter and member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colour, died in 1869 from a chill caught whilst sketching on a glacier. Miss Rosenberg was also a member of the Institute, and married the Bath-based still-life painter William Duffield in 1850; he died in 1863 but she lived on until 1914. Miss Rosenberg was also the author (and illustrator) of The Museum of Flowers (London: 1845) and The Art of Flower Painting (London: 1856), both of which went through a number of editions (the 12th edition of the second work appeared in 1882).
The subjects of the work are members of the genus Hippeastra, of the Amaryllideae 'tribe'. The individual drawings are named as follows Amaryllis Sweetii, A. Vittata Formosa, Spreikelia Formosissima, A. Augusta Johnsoni Spectabilis, Vallota Purpurea Major, hybrid Amaryllis, A. Hoodi and A. Atrorubens. Cf. BM(NH) IV, p.1732 (with '8 pls. col.'); Great Flower Books (1990) p.133; Nissen BBI 1678; cf. Stafleu & Cowan 9516 (with hand-coloured lithographs).