Book Title - Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini, in hortis curiosorum nutrita [Nuremberg: 1750-1773] 1st Edition.
Author – Christoph Jacob Trew (1695 – 1769)
Artist – Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708 – 1770)
Engraver – Johann Jacob Haid (1704 – 1767)
Hand coloured engraving with the first word of the caption heightened in gold.
Plate size 370mm x 540mm
Frame size 550mm x 700mm
Engraving framed between glass with green fabric backing
Christoph Jacob Trew was a German botanist. He was originally a city solicitor, court physician, Count Palatine of the Holy Roman Empire, and an advisor to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach. He also had an academic passion for botany. He was a member of the Royal Society of London, the Berlin Academy, and the Florentine Botanical Society. His interest in botany led him to sponsor the publication of illustrated botanical books.
Georg Dionysius Ehret was born in Germany. Beginning his working life as a gardener's apprentice, he became one of the most influential European botanical artists of all time. “While he did not slavishly imitate what he saw, neither did he allow his feeling for the colour and design of flowers distract him from the fundamentals of plant structure," Wilfrid Blunt observed in The Art of Botanical Illustration. Ehret was at the top of his profession in 1768 when the young botanist Joseph Banks returned from Labrador and Newfoundland with the botanical specimens that made his early reputation; it was to Ehret he turned for meticulous paintings on vellum.
Trew and Ehret's celebrated collaboration, magnificently coloured by hand. Nissen considered the Plantae selectae to be the finest botanical work ever printed in Germany. All 100 plates of the Plantae selectae were painted by Ehret. Trew wrote the descriptive text. Trew died in 1769, leaving the last three parts uncompleted. The work was finished by Benedict Christian Vogel, Professor of Botany at the University of Altdorf.
The work was conceived as early as 1742 when Trew wrote to Christian Thran in Carlsruhe: "Every year I receive some beautifully painted exotic plants (by Ehret) and have already more than one hundred of them, which with other pieces executed by local artists, should later on, Deo volente, constitute an appendicem to Weinmann’s publication but will, I hope, find a better reception than his".
In 1748, agreement was reached that Johann Jacob Haid from Augsburg should provide the engravings, and the first part appeared in 1750. Trew died before the text of the last three decuriae was written and before the illustrations of Decuriae IX and X were printed. The work was then completed by Benedict Christian Vogel. In a letter in Latin to Trew, Linnaeus expressed his opinion: "The miracles of our century in the natural sciences are your work of Ehret’s plants, Edward’s work of birds and Roesel’s of insects, nothing equal was seen in the past or will be in the future" (Gerta Calmann, Ehret Flower Painter Extraordinary, 1977, 9.97).
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