NICOLAUS THOMAS HOST (1761-1834)
Salix. Vienna: widow of Antonius Strauss, 1828[-1830]. Volume I (all published). Letterpress title, 3ll. dedication to Emperor Franz I of Austria. 2pp. preface, 34pp. descriptive text. 105 FINE HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVED PLATES BY JOHANN IBMAYER. (Light spotting to title and final plate.) Contemporary red straight-grained morocco gilt, covers with double-fillet border, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, the others ruled in gilt, gilt edges (binding scuffed with some slight surface damage to the leather, joints slightly split). Provenance: The Earl of Derby (Knowsley Hall, armorial bookplate and shelfmark, sale, Christie's, 30 June 1971, lot 71); Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's, 27 April 1987, lot 165).
FIRST EDITION. A SUPERB AND VERY RARE MONOGRAPH ON ONE OF THE MOST DECORATIVE AND VERSATILE OF ALL TREE GENERA. Host's work represents the first serious attempt at an illustrated monograph on the Willow. It was intended that the work should be completed in two volumes, "Jacquin, in a letter to de Candolle, dated 10 March 1834, mentions the circumstance that 53 illustrations were ready for a second volume, of which 11 had already been engraved, printed and coloured. Beetz... mentions the existence of a further 140 incomplete drawings; all these are now in the Portrtsammlung of the Nationalbibliothek, Vienna" (Stafleu & Cowan). Host, who was director of the garden at Schoenbrunn and principal physician to Emperor Franz I, published two other major works (Icones et descriptiones graminum Austriacorum, 1801-1809; and Flora Austraica, 1827); his name is justly celebrated in the Hosta family of plants. Ibmayer (or Jebmayer) remains a shadowy figure: although clearly a botanical artist of talent, his name is apparently attached to only three titles: the present work, the Icones..., and F. Schmidt's sterreichs allgemeine Baumzucht (Vienna: 1792-1822). Most of the numerous practical uses for Willow have been understood for many centuries; a general appreciation of their decorative qualities is a more recent development. The weeping willow (Salix Babylonica) is the best known of the decorative species, others would include the White Willow (S. alba), S. regalis with white silvery leaves and S. rosmarinifolia with very narrow leaves, purplish above, silvery below. Great Flower Books (1990) p.104; Nissen BBI 936; Pritzel 4287; Stafleu & Cowan 3069.