ROUPELL, Arabella Elizabeth (1817-1914, illustrator). Specimens of the Flora of South Africa By A Lady, explanatory text by William Henry Harvey. London: printed by W.Nicol, 1849 [but March 1850]. Broadsheet (572 x 558mm). Printed on thin card and mounted on guards throughout, 1p. list of subscribers (103 names for 108 copies), hand-coloured lithographed title, 8 plates and one tailpiece, all by P. Gauci after Roupell. (Small crease to lower outer corner of plate 5, plate 6 slightly spotted, occasional small repaired tears to margins of text leaves, most noticeably to the dedication leaf.) Original brown morocco, covers with decorative border tooled in gilt and blind, the upper cover with centrally-placed blocked vignette with the title 'Cape Flowers By A Lady' surrounded by naturalistic flowers and foliage, gilt edges (rebacked with section of original spine laid down, some scuffing, later endpapers).
A RARE LARGE SCALE WORK CELEBRATING THE AMAZING DIVERSITY OF THE FLORA OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE. Arabella Roupell (née Piggott) was the wife of Thomas Boone Roupell of the East India Company. In the preface she explains how the present work came about: "The original drawings of the plants represented in the following plates were made from specimens collected at the Cape of Good Hope a few years ago [in 1843-1844, during a period of leave from India] ... They ... happened to come from time to time under the observation and critical eye of Dr. [Nathaniel] Wallich [1786-1854] (then also on a visit to the Cape), and under the encouragement derived from his approbation and with his sanction of their fidelity, the drawings were sent to England, and having been submitted to the inspection of Sir William Hooker [1785-1865], were likewise honoured by his favourable opinion, and it was at the joint suggestion and advice of these two distinguished botanists that they were ultimately placed in the hands of the eminent lithographer Mr. P. Gauci. The very interesting descriptive remarks upon the plates were contibuted by Professor [William Henry] Harvey [1811-1866], whose intimate knowledge of South African botany has enabled him to confer a value upon the work ... in which it would otherwise have been deficient." An interesting further link to both Wallich and Hooker is provided by the final image of Roupellia grata (a plant native to Serra Leone): the genus was named by them in honour of various members of the Roupell family: Arabella Roupell and her husband; her husband's grandfather Charles Roupell of Charleston, South Carolina; and Dr. Roupell of Welbeck Street, London (another of Charles Roupell's grandchildren). M. Arnold South African Botanical Art (Vlaeberg, 2001), p.39; BM(NH) IV, p.1742; Great Flower Books (1990) p.134; Mendelssohn II, p.254; Nissen BBI 1687; Stafleu & Cowan IV, 9684.
With Allan Bird's Arabella Roupell. Pioneer Artist of Cape Flowers (Johannesburg: 1975) and More Cape Flowers by a Lady (Johannesburg: 1964, both LIMITED EDITIONS. (3)