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Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service. Sir Joseph Dalton HOOKER.
Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service
Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service
Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service
Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service

Illustrations of Himalayan Plants, chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F.Cathcart Esq. of the Bengal Civil Service

London: Lovell Reeve, 1855. Folio. (20 x 14 3/4 inches). Half-title. 2pp. subscriber's list. Lithographic title with hand-coloured botanical border, 24 hand-coloured lithographic plates by and after Walter Hood Fitch from original drawings by native artists and the author. Minor foxing in the rear mostly affecting text and tissue guards, one plate toned.

Publisher's patterned cloth boards, rebacked with the original spine laid down, floral patterned endpapers. Housed in a cloth box.

Hooker's second work on Himalayan plants containing some of the most spectacular work of Walter Hood Fitch, arguably the greatest botanical artist of the second half of the 19th century: "one of the finest flower books ever produced" (Jan Lewis).

In the eloquent and evocative introduction to the present work, Hooker writes that he wished the work to stand as a monument to the botanical contributions of James F. Cathcart (1802-1851). Cathcart, during the lengthy period when he suffered from ill-health, spent his time assiduously recording the flora of the Himalayas, and with the help of native artists assembled a series of nearly one thousand drawings of the plants of the remote region. The original plan had been for Cathcart to have given Hooker £1000 to pay for "a work similar to the Sikkim-Himalaya Rhododendrons, and to distribute it to the principal botanists and scientific establishments in Europe." Having sent his collection of drawings ahead to Hooker, Cathcart died in Lausanne during his journey back to Britain. The work subsequently appeared in its present form: partly through subscription (176 names are listed) and partly after Cathcart's family agreed to honour his promise of financial support for the work. The plates were re-drawn and transferred to stone by Fitch who "corrected the stiffness and want of botanical knowledge displayed by the native artists." In addition Fitch worked from a number of drawings supplied by Hooker himself of alpine plants found at greater elevation than Mr. Cathcart was able to visit. In his introduction, Hooker readily acknowledges the importance of Fitch's beautiful images "that have been justly pronounced as of unrivalled excellence in an artistic point of view" and makes the general point that "works like the present must appeal to the lovers of art and horticulture" in equal measure. The combined efforts of Hooker, Fitch and Cathcart produced "probably the finest plates of Magnolia Campbellii and Meconopsis simplicifolia ever made, as well as other important Himalayan plants" (Great Flower Books).

Great Flower Books (1990) p.101; Jan Lewis Walter Hood Fitch A celebration 1992, p.16; Nissen BBI 910; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 2973.

Item #35304

Price: $18,000.00

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