An album of drawings and watercolours of natural history and topographical subjects, and including a original watercolour of a bouquet of bluebells and wood-anemones by Margaret Meen
[Great Britain: first quarter 19th century]. Quarto. (12 11/16 x 12 5/8 inches). 29 drawings or watercolours, each corner mounted.
Early English red straight-grained morocco gilt, covers with border defined by an inner and outer single fillet rule, containing cornerpieces built up from an acorn-on-a-leaf tool and other small tools, spine in six compartments with double raised bands, lettered (in the second) 'Recueil / des / talens/' and 'et de / l'amitie' (in the third), the fourth and fifth compartments blank, the first and sixth with elaborate repeat tooling made up from numerous small tools and pointillé work, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, g.e.
Provenance: Marquis of Bute
A rare and beautifully bound collection of original drawings and watercolours, including a work by Margaret Meen "the most outstanding woman painter associated with Kew [Gardens] in the eighteenth century" (Mabley) and an early representation of one of Australia's most spectacular butterflies, the Cape York Birdwing (Troides priamus pronomus)
Although there is no indication of provenance, this is one of a number of albums recently sold from Mountstuart, the Bute family home on the island of Bute. The group of friends which this album commemorates likely came from the circle of John, Third Earl of Bute. He died in 1792, leaving a magnificent collection of botanical drawings, and this album was perhaps compiled by one of his children. The most outstanding natural history item within the album is a watercolour of bluebells and wood anemones by Margaret Meen whose very rare Exotic plants from the Royal Gardens at Kew was published in 1790. Amongst the other natural history items are botanical works by M. Austen (a watercolour and bodycolour drawing including crocus, snowdrop and roses), S. Smyth (a watercolour and bodycolour drawing of pink and white flowering mallows), and A. Holland (?) (a fine watercolour and bodycolour drawing on vellum of nasturtiums).Other natural history works include pen, ink and bodycolour drawing of a Baltimore Oriole by Lord de Tabley (dated 1826), and a gouache drawing of the Cape York Birdwing butterfly (Troides priamus pronomus) by E.Morland,and here titled 'Papilio priamus'. The other pictures include pieces by William Payne (romantic Italianate fishing village), Jane Machill (a finely executed watercolour of two angles , ?copied from an old master), S.Knott (a watercolour of a sailing vessel in a coastal landscape), C. Gibson (a charming watercolour of a mother and two children picnicing), G. Smyth (a watercolour of river valley), F. Dixon (a watercolour copy of a costume print, titled in German and in French 'Un Paysan de la haute Carniole en Habit d'Ete'), J. Rawstorne (a pencil drawing on vellum of a child), T. Sunderland (a drawing in brown ink with grey and blue washes of a stone bridge and cottage, figures and cattle in the foreground, with mountains in the background), M. Dixon (an oil sketch on thin card of a farmyard scene), A. Wickham (a watercolour sketch of an inn by a lakeside, hills in the background), H. Dalrymple (a watercolour in the neo-classical style with cupid in a chariot drawn by tigers all against a black background), and finally, an anonymous watercolour (inscribed on the verso 'Gorsey Lea Cottage - Miss Hopwood's. / near Middleton - Lancashire,' the mount is dated '1815'.
For Meen see: Blunt & Stearn. The Art of Botanical Illustration (1994), pp.221-222; Henrey III, pp.248, 577; Richard Mabey The Flowering of Kew, (1988), p.42.