ELWES, Henry John (1846-1922)
A Monograph of the Genus Lilium ... Illustrated by W. H. Fitch ... [with:] A Supplement to ... by A. Grove ... Illustrated by Lilian Snelling ... [and with:] A Supplement to ... by W. B. Turrill ... Illustrated by Margaret Stones
London: Taylor and Francis; Dulau and Co.; The Royal Horticultural Society, [1877-] 1880; 1933-1940; 1960-1962. Folio. [Monograph] Seven parts bound in one. Illustrated title. 48 hand coloured lithographed plates by Fitch, hand colored lithographed map, mounted albumen photograph by Bourne. Original front and rear parts wrappers bound in. [Supplement, first series, parts I-VII] Seven original parts. Illustrated title. 30 hand coloured plates by Snelling (28) and Ross-Craig (2). [Supplement, second series, parts VIII and IX] Two original parts. 10 colour plates after Stokes.
[Monograph:] Early green morocco backed cloth, bound by Zaehnsdorf, spine lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers. [Supplement:] Publisher's tan (I-VII) and green (VIII-IX) wrappers, housed in a modern green morocco backed box.
A complete set, including all nine parts of the supplement, of this magisterial work on one of the most beautiful of all plant families.
The work was issued in three separate and distinct stages: The monograph was instigated by Henry Elwes, a gentleman plant-collector, traveler and gardener, whose interest in botany had been sparked by a visit to the Himalayan region (the journey itself was inspired by reading Hooker's Himalayan Journals). In the garden at his home in Colesbourne, Gloucestershire, he was able to grow many of the members of the Lilium genus and was a recognized expert in the field. However, he played down his level of knowledge, and to ensure that the text was as accurate as possible, and that the range of lilies was as complete as possible, he consulted the greatest botanical experts in the field for help in writing the text. This level of excellence was continued with the illustrations, and Elwes was able to carry through his plan to illustrate the monograph with hand-coloured plates by the best available botanical artist, with each member of the genus shown full-size. Between March 1877 and May 1880, subscribers received seven parts (at a total cost of seven guineas), illustrated with 48 plates by W. H. Fitch.
Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892) had his first illustration published in 1834, and throughout most of the remaining part of the nineteenth century produced over 9,600 plates for all the greatest British botanical publications. Sir Joseph Hooker called him an "incomparable botanical artist," with his "unrivalled skill in seizing the natural character of a plant." The plates to the present work proved to be what Blunt calls the "most important achievement of Fitch's later career" (Art of Botanical Illustration  264)
Shortly before his death in 1922 Elwes had asked A. Grove, a friend and fellow lily expert, to undertake the task of producing the supplement. Dame Alice Godman, who was related by marriage to Elwes, agreed to underwrite the cost of the work, and (co-written by Grove and the botanist A. D. Cotton) the first seven parts of the supplement were published between July 1933 and February 1940, with 30 hand-coloured lithographed plates, all but two by Miss Snelling.
Lillian Snelling (1879-1972), had been taught lithography by Morley Fletcher, and in addition to the present plates, is best known for her work on the Botanical Magazine, where she was principal artist for nearly thirty years, and also lithographed many of Miss Ross-Craig's paintings for the periodical. The grace and accuracy of her plates for the Supplement perfectly complement Fitch's earlier work.
The final two parts to the Supplement, with text by W.B. Turrill, were published by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1960 and 1962. The ten plates were from drawings by Margaret Stones (b. 1920 in Melbourne), who had been appointed principal contributing artist to the Botanical Magazine in 1958.
Nissen BBI 594; Great Flower Books (1990) 94; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 1664.