BOTANICAL WATERCOLOURS - F.M. STANTON (artist)
Specimens of Oriental Tinting [cover title: being an album of original botanical watercolour drawings]
[Great Britain: circa 1828]. Folio. (15 2/5 x 12 inches). 20 drawings (each approx. 15 3/8 x 12 inches) in watercolour and bodycolour on paper, all but one with caption in gold ink, 16 signed or initialled by Stanton, 1p. small format manuscript list of the flowers (including 4 not present in the album) tipped to front endpaper.
Contemporary English green half calf with red textured paper on covers, the upper cover with large centrally-placed green calf title label, lettered 'Specimens / of / Oriental Tinting.' within a decorative border of double fillets and a stylized scrolling vine roll-tool, expertly rebacked and cornered to style, the flat spine divided into six compartments by fillets and roll tools, simple repeat pattern to each compartment of a single centrally-placed lozenge-shaped tool. Modern green cloth box, morocco lettering piece.
A unique album of original botanical watercolours, the majority being exotic species, and all executed using the theorem painting technique of oriental tinting.
This album contains very early examples of original artwork produced using a technique that came to prominence in the late 1820s and early-1830s. The results, here painted on 'Imperial London Board', show a strong sense of both design and colour whilst still retaining the charming naivété of what was essentially a folk art technique.
Oriental tinting was an early version of theorem painting technique that enjoyed such widespread popularity in both Europe and the United States during the 19th century. The exact date of the invention or introduction of this method is uncertain, but in 1829 Nathaniel Whittock, in his work The art of drawing and colouring from nature , writes of 'the new method of oriental tinting'. By the following year the method was popular enough for W. Morgan, a drawing master in Torquay, to publish a work titled The Art of Oriental Tinting. Morgan describes the technique as a 'method of applying watercolour which gives [the drawings] a softness and brilliancy almost surpassing nature in the effect produced.' The method involved transferring a drawing with 'oriental' (or tracing) paper to paper, wood, velvet, silk, satin or marble, and working up the colours to the desired brilliancy.
The patterns from which the present watercolours are taken appear to include various sources, the majority printed. The origin of one drawing can be precisely identified: the 13th image, titled 'Passiflora Racemoso. Princess Charlotte's Passion Flower', is an adapted version of plate number 2001 from the volume of William Curtis's The Botanical Magazine published in 1818. This helps with the dating of the album, as do the watermarks on the mounts (dated 1827-1828) and the watermark on the manuscript list of plates (1828).
All the drawings are evidently by the same hand, and the probability is that the artist, F.M. Stanton, was a woman. In any case, the creator of the present album shows a particular penchant for exotic flowers, and the species pictured include amaryllis Formosissima, passiflora racemosa, coccinea dahlia, convolvolus Jalapa, camellia Japonica, bigonia aquinoctialis and the splendid magnolia purpurea.