SIBTHORP, JOHN, JAMES EDWARD SMITH and JOHN LINDLEY. Flora Graeca: sive plantarum rariorum historia, quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae. London: Richard Taylor (vol. 3: and Arthur; vol. 10: and John E. ) for John White (vol. 1), White Cochrane (vol. 2), Payne & Foss (vols. 3-5), 1806-1840 [plates watermarked 1847]
10 vols., large folio, 474 x 333 mm., contemporary green half morocco gilt, g.e., by J. Wright, vol. 6 rebound in similar style with the original spine mounted, some minor binding wear to extremities, blank leaf at front torn out of vol. 1, rear free endpaper torn out of vol. 7, child's scrawled signature on endpaper of vol. 9 (William O'Donnell); engraved title of vol. 1, plates 791 and 895 with slight creases, plate 279 with stain on blank verso, slight foxing to engraved titles, some other very occasional and extremely minor foxing, mostly on blank interleaves.
ONE OF 65 COPIES PUBLISHED, this one of 40 copies issued by Henry C. Bohn between 1845 and 1856 (25 subscription copies were issued between 1806 and 1840). Latin text. 10 hand-colored engraved titles with decorative calligraphy by [Thomas] Tomkins engraved by Richard Williamson, each with a different colored vignette landscape view (vol. 9 signed by W. Westall), 966 hand-colored engraved plates by Ferdinand Bauer, James Sowerby and James de Carle Sowerby after Ferdinand Bauer's drawings.
"THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE MONUMENTS OF BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION (FERDINAND BAUER), BOTANICAL EXPLORATION (SIBTHORP'S PERSEVERANCE NOTWITHSTANDING BAD HEALTH) AND TAXONOMIC CRAFTSMANSHIP J.E. SMITH" (Stafleu). "One of the rarest and most beautiful in both plates and typography of all botanical works" (Great Flower Books). John Sibthorp (1758-1796) graduated at Oxford in 1777 and studied medicine in Edinburgh and Montpellier. He succeeded his father as Sherardian professor of botany at Oxford in 1784 and left England soon after for Göttingen and Vienna, where he studied the Dioscorides manuscript, the Codex Vindoboniensis, and was introduced to Baron Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin to Ferdinand Bauer. Sibthorp planned a botanical tour of Greece and the Levant to identify more accurately the plants named as remedies by Dioscorides and persuaded Bauer to join him as botanical artist, together with Sibthorp's brother-in-law, John Hawkins. Returning to London in 1787, Sibthorp took part in the foundation of the Linnean Society in 1788 and began work on Flora Oxoniensis (published 1794) while Bauer meticulously prepared his own finished drawings from sketches made in Greece, using his elaborate color coding system, and continued this labor in England during Sibthorp's second expedition to the Levant in 1794-1795. During his return to England, Sibthorp contracted tuberculosis and died in Bath, on 8 February 1796, aged 27. In addition to the bequest of his library to Oxford University and the foundation of the Sibthorpian chair there, attached to the chair of botany, all of the drawings and material for Flora Graeca were similarly bequeathed with an endowment for publication costs. Sir James Edward Smith was appointed, at an annual salary of £150, to write the work and completed vols. 1-7 part 1 (published 1806-1831) before his death in 1828. John Lindley was Smith's successor and vols. 7 part 2-10 were published between 1832 and 1840. Flora Graeca serves as the principal monument to Sibthorp (the engraved titles memorialize his untimely death). "Hawkins (who died in 1841) and [Thomas] Platt supervised the publication of these ten noble volumes from start to finish. Superbly printed and illustrated, it was the finest illustrated flora produced in England and fundamental to the study of Greek plants." (Blunt and Stearn). The entire cost of the undertaking was £30,000 but only 30 subscriptions were taken up, at a cost of £254 per set. Of these 30, only 25 subscriptions were completed (thus each £254 set cot £1000 to produce!). Henry C. Bohn took over the plates and stock from Oxford University and, in 1847, advertised a further 40 copies for sale using the remaining stock of the text and reprinting a large number of the plates on paper watermarked 1845-1847.
Blunt & Stearn, The Art of Botanical Illustration, pp. 224-226; Cleveland Collections 713; Dunthorne 282; Great Flower Books, p. 76; Henrey 1319; Nissen BBI 1840; Pritzel 8660; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 11.935; W.T. Stearn, Taxon. 1, pp. 168-178.
Provenance: Markree Castle library, Co. Sligo, Eire, the property of Commander E.F.P. Cooper, R.N. (sale, Sotheby's, 14-16 December 1953, lot 364); Arpad Plesch, book label (sale, Sotheby's London, 15 March 1976, lot 698); Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 28 April 1987, lot 332).
SIBTHORP, J. and J.E. SMITH. Florae Graecae Prodromus: sive plantarum omnium enumeratio quas in provinciis aut insulis Graeciae...characteres et synonyma omnium cum annotationibus elaboravit Jacobus Edvardus Smith, M.D. London: Richard Taylor for John White, 1806-1813 [-1816]. 2 vols., 8vo, 235 x 145 mm., original green cloth, covers blocked in blind, spine gilt-lettered ("Sibthorpe" sic), extremities of spines and corners worn, inner joints cracked, some foxing. FIRST EDITION. Cleveland Collections 714; Henrey 1318; Pritzel 8659; Stafleu & Cowan 11.934. KKM/HSNY, bookplate, spine labels, lending tickets. (12)