EDWARDS, John (1742- after 1812)
A Select Collection of One Hundred Plates, consisting of the most Beautiful Exotic and British Flowers
London: for S. Hooper, 1775. Folio. (17 7/8 x 11 1/4 inches). 100 hand-coloured engraved plates by J. Edwards, Ferner, W. Darling and I. Fougeron after J. Edwards. Minor foxing and toning.
Contemporary diced russia, spine gilt, expert repair to the front joint.
Provenance: David Mill (bookplate); Frederick du Cane Godman (bookplate)
One of the most highly artistic flower books of the eighteenth century.
It is likely that the illustrations were coloured by Edwards himself, as he not only made the drawings, but also etched and engraved the majority of the plates. Born in 1742, Edwards was both a book-illustrator and an artist for the calico-printing industry. He specialised in flower studies, and his works were exhibited at the Society of Artists and the Royal Academy. Described by Henrey as "an outstanding folio volume," Edwards' work is not really a herbal at all "as a number of the species figured have no medical interest, and without doubt the plants were chosen for their decorative value" (Henrey, 2:17-18). This second edition of Edwards' Herbal includes a new and "more suitable title," but contains the same letterpress and plates. As Henrey points out, the plates were primarily chosen for their decorative value, and it seems no coincidence that many flowers on Worcester porcelain of the period are directly inspired by Edwards's work.
Great Flower Books (1990) p.93; Dunthorne 104; Henrey 676; Nissen BBI 578.