19th Century Prints, Engraving, Past/Present

Past/Present: Verbena

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two prints of the plant Verbena, known for its dense, spiky leaves and clusters of purple and blue flowers. The earlier, and more traditional, of the two images comes from Robert Sweet’s “Geraniaceae: The Natural Order of Gerania.” The small but elegant plates in “Geraniaceae…” have a delicacy of line that has endeared them to botanical lovers since their publication. The second, and more recent images, comes from a collection of romantic tales by Taxile Delord, published in two volumes (first edition 1846),  and  illustrated with hand-colored engravings by the famous French caricaturist, J.J. Grandville.  In Grandville’s engravings, flowers are transformed into all manner of women from village girls and ballerinas to nuns, nurses and queens, often attired in comical versions of contemporary fashion.  Grandville’s brilliant, if brief, career had been established earlier with “Scenes de la Vie Privee et Publique des Animaux” (1842-44), which depicted animals as contemporary social and political types, with human character and emotions.  “Le Fleurs Aminees,” was highly acclaimed immediately upon its publication. If you like the style of Grandville’s work, make sure to check out a longer post we did on him in June. Enjoy!

Image on Left: Viola tricolor. Verbena redicans. Hunemania fumariaefolia. Catananche caerulea  by E. D. Smith. From Robert Sweet’s “Geraniaceae: The Natural Order of Gerania.” Published by J. Ridgway, London. Engraving, hand colored, c. 1820-30s.

Image on Right: Verveine by J. J. Grandville. Published by Garnier Freres, Paris. Engraving, hand colored, c. 1860s.


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