18 December 2002
HOOKER, Joseph Dalton. The Rhododendrons of the Sikkim-Himalaya; being an Account, Botanical, and Geographical of the Rhododendrons recently discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya...edited by Sir W.J. Hooker. London: Reeve, Benham and Reeve, 1849-1851.
2o (497 x 363 mm). Title with tinted lithographic vignette, 30 hand-colored lithographic plates by Walter H. Fitch after Hooker, printed by Reeve & Nichols (plate 10 with a few small marginal spots). Nineteenth-century red half morocco, marbled boards (some light wear at extremities). Provenance: George W. Smith (presented to); Massachusetts Horticultural Society (bookplate; stamps).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS ATTRACTIVE WORK. "An important work for both the botanist and horticulturalist since it contains descriptions and plates of many of the best Rhododendron species...and an account of their discovery" (Great Flower Books). Hooker spent several years exploring Sikkim, as well as parts of Nepal and Tibet. His field notes were sent to England from India to his father, Sir William Hooker (1785-1865), who edited the text for this work. Hooker's "observations on the geology and meteorology of Sikkim are still fundamental, and he explained the terracing of the mountain valleys by the formation of glacial lakes. He succeded in introducing into cultivation through Kew the splendid rhododendrons of Sikkim..." (DNB). The plates are by Walter Hood Fitch, the most prolific of all botanical artists. His work produced in association with Sir Joseph Hooker and J.H. Hooker is among his finest. "Fitch had the greatest competence of any botantical painter who has yet appeared in drawing the rhododendron..." (Great Flower Books). "In his lithographs he has captured the exuberant form and colour of these flowering shrubs.. Sometimes at the base of the plate, magnified views of the pistils, stamens and sections of the ovaries are presented. The first plate is unusually attractive because the plant... is shown in its native habitat, growing among the trunks of fallen trees against a hazy background of blue mountains." (Oak Spring Flora). Great Flower Books (1990) p.101; Nissen BBI 911; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 2969; L. Tongiorgi Tomasi An Oak Spring Flora 104.
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