Georg Dionysius Ehret (British, 1708-1770), "Lilium" (American Turk's-cap Lily, Lilium superbum)- a hand-colored, copperplate engraving from "Plantae Selectae" by Christoph Jacob Trew (German, 1695-1769), engraved by Johann Jakob Haid (German, 1704-1767) printed in Nuremburg, Germany, 1751. This plant study - presenting a centrally placed flower with many orange and yellow blossoms, most in full bloom with some yellow buds at the top, was created when Ehret had achieved his mature style. In an accompanying text Ehret notes that "this lily first flowered in August 1738", in the garden of Peter Collinson. Collinson who lived just outside of London was an avid collector of new plants, and Ehret enjoyed studying plants in his collection. Dr. C. J. Trew included this image in his book "Plantae Selectae," which he published in Nuremberg between 1750 and 1773. Size: 19.25" L x 12.25" W (48.9 cm x 31.1 cm); 34.5" L x 27.5" W (87.6 cm x 69.8 cm) including framing
Georg Dionysius Ehret was one of the greatest 18th century botanical artists who was unrivalled in his ability to "achieve realism, majesty, ineffable colour, all in one breathtaking look." (Hunt). He created magnificent illustrations for numerous important botanical publications, including Plantae Selectae by Dr. C.J. Trew. Ehret was also integral to promoting the binomial system of plant classification devised by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.
Born in Heidelberg, Ehret initially worked as a gardener, though he enjoyed drawing during his spare time. In time, a Regensburg banker named Leskenkohl recognized Ehret's artistic abilities and commissioned him to copy plates from van Rheede tot Draakestein's "Hortus indicus malabaricus" (1678-1693). During this period of time, Ehret met Trew.
"Trew was a Nuremberg physician, anatomist, and botanist who at various times served as dean of the medical school at Nuremberg, as an Imperial Counselor, and as personal physician to the Emperor. He was made a Pfalzgraf and served as a patron of botanical (and anatomical) illustrators, filling roughly the same position in Germany as that occupied by Sir Hans Sloane in England" ( Cleveland Collections p.397). Trew would be a constant friend and patron of Ehret's throughout his lifetime. By the year 1742, the seed of an idea for his "Plantae Selectae" was taking root. 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 ... constitute an appendicem to Weinmann's publication."
In the late 1730s, Ehret moved to London, where he painted the newly regaled exotics at the Chelsea Physic Garden and established himself as a flower-painting and botany instructor. Written exchanges about the potential publication continued until Johann Jacob Haid of Augsburg agreed to produce the engravings from Ehret's drawings in 1748. In 1750, the first part was published, and there were six subsequent parts prior to Trew's death in 1769. Interestingly, the text to the final three parts had not been written, and the plates to parts IX and X awaited production. In time, Benedict Christian Vogel, Professor of Botany at the University of Altdorf, concluded the work.
Inscriptions: "LILIVM foliis sparsis,/fundo aureo, limbo auran- / pedunculis singulis (Lower Left); multiflorum, floribus reflexis / tio, punctis nigricantibus, / umco folio instructis. (Lower Right); Tab XI (Upper right)
Bibliographic references: Trew, Christoph Jacob. Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini (Nuremberg, 1750-1773), plate 9, issued in part 2 in 1751. Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1924, published under the Authority of the Board of Education, London, 1926.
Provenance: private Colorado, USA collection
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