The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala.

Eur 75,000 / USD 82,500
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London, J. Richway & Sons. (1837)- 1843. Elephant folio (740 x 525 mm). One-page subscriber's list,addenda and corrigenda slip bound at back, lithographic pictorial title and 40 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates, drawn on stone by P. Gauci after Miss S.A. Drake (16), Mrs. Augusta Withers (21), Miss Jane Edwards (1), Samuel Holden (1), and one unsigned, one uncoloured plan of Epiphite-houses and 38 wood engraved vignettes, two by George Cruikshank, all plates with explanatory leaf of text. Contemporary brown half morocco, richly gilt decorated spine with gilt lettering, marbled sides, gilt edges (old rebacking preserving original spine, corners and ends of spine with old repair).

perhaps the most renowned and sought-after of all orchid books

First edition of one of the rarest, and "perhaps the most renowned and sought-after of all orchid books" (W. Stearn, John Lindley p. 133). Limited to 125 copies only, the work is "probably the finest, and certainly the largest botanical book ever produced with lithographic plates? In size and in splendour, Bateman's giant folio eclipses the works of all who went before or came after him. Maxim Gauci, who was born in Malta, executed the forty lithographs? a master of the process, he arranged his tone from the palest of silvery greys to the richest velvet black; his outline is never mechanical or obtrusive; the hand-colouring ? executed with consummate skill" (Blunt. The Art of Botanical illustration pp. 249 & 252). The book also has the odd distinction of being the only botanical work with illustrations by George Cruikshank, one which parodies the volume's massive bulk and the inconvenience thus caused to librarians.
"This magnificent elephant folio is botany's riposte to Audubon's 'Birds of America' (Desmond, Great Natural History books and their Creators p. 19).
James Bateman (1811-1897) was a wealthy landowner and horticulturalist who nurtured a lifelong passion for rare orchids, and transformed his Staffordshire home at Biddulph Grange into one of the most beautiful gardens in Britain (now managed by the National Trust).

Some foxing to text and plates.

Provenance: Bookplate with Crown and monogram MCR (?).

Great Flower Books p. 48; Nissen BBI 89; Stafleu & Cowan 342.