Illustrations of Himalayan plants.

Eur 19,000 / USD 20,900
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London, L. Reeve, 1855. Folio (508 x 380mm). With 1 pictorial handcoloured lithographed title and 24 handcoloured lithographed plates, each with an explanatory leaf of text. Contemporary half cloth, pictorial title on frontcover.

The original drawings for the present work were done by native artists

First and only edition of Hooker's second work on Himalayan plants illustrated by Walter Hood Fitch, the most famous botanical artist of the Victorian era. The superbly illustrated title shows thirty different species of Himalayan plants. The book was to be published with the financial support of Cathcart (with whom Hooker had stayed in Bengal) and to be distributed free to 'the principal botanists and scientific establishments in Europe'. However, Carthcart died 49 years old, on his way back to London, at Lausanne. The book was then financed by the family as well as by others.
The book had 176 subscribers amongst which Charles Darwin to whom Hooker had dedicated his 'Himalayan Journals' (1854). The original drawings for the present work were done by native artists and were redrawn by Fitch to correct 'the stiffness and want of botanical knowledge displayed by the native artists who executed most of the originals' (from the Introduction). "For the title page of the book, Fitch created a design of thirty different species of Himalyan flora. Other pages, vibrant with colour, illustrate such plants as the purple 'Magnolia campbellii', or the 'Querrcus lamellosa'. The Victorians loved superlatives, and they loved this book. Not only did it contain Fitch's best work, but it was also one of the finest flower books ever produced. It created a sensation in 1855 when it sold for 5 guineas..." (J. Lewis, Walter Hood Fitch, a celebration p. 16).

Great Flower Books, p. 60; Nissen BBI, 910; Stafleu & Cowan 2973.