ROXBURGH, William (1751-1815)
Diospyros melanoxylon [Coromandel Ebony or Ebony Persimmon]
[Pl. 46] London: George Nicol, 1795-1819 [-1820]. Engraving, coloured by hand. Excellent condition apart from a 1/4" tear in the bottom margin. Sheet size: 23 3/4 x 18 1/4 inches. Plate mark: 21 x 15 inches.
A fine image from the major work on the flora of India, Roxburgh's 'Plants of the Coast of Coromandel'. A lavish work published over a 25-year period, depicting the plants life-size.
A Scotsman by birth, Roxburgh studied medicine at Edinburgh University and made several voyages as surgeon's mate in East Indiamen before arriving at Madras in 1776 to take up the post of assistant surgeon. During the next few years, he spent much of his spare time studying the botany of the Carnatic, a region of southern India between the Eastern Ghats and the Coromandel coast. In 1779 he was stationed at Nagore, then in 1782 moved to Samalkot, a remote district 200 miles north of Madras with much flora in the adjacent hilly region. He remained at Samalkot until 1793 when he became superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden, holding the office until his retirement in 1814. Before his appointment as the East India Company's botanist, Roxburgh had for some years "retained a painter constantly employed in drawing plants" which he then accurately described with added remarks on their uses. When he forwarded the first group of these drawings and descriptions to the Company's Court of Directors in England in 1791, they in turn forwarded them to Sir Joseph Banks who gave him his assent to the work on 4th July 1794. Jonas Drydander, Banks's librarian, was responsible for much of the editing, and dedicated to Roxburgh the genus "Roxburghia", the type specimen of which (Roxburghia gloriosoides).
Cf. Dunthorne 269; Henrey III, 1289; Nissen BBI 1689.