19th Century Prints, Aquatint, Contemporary, Etching, Mezzotint, Past/Present, Prints

Past/Present: Night-Blooming Cereus

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two prints of night-blooming cereus flowers. These beautiful flowers open after nightfall, and by dawn, most are in the process of wilting. The flowers are short-lived, and some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, bloom only once a year. The older print is a mezzotint, printed in color and finished by hand, from “The Temple of Flora; or Garden of Nature. Picturesque Botanical Plates of the New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus.” by Dr. Robert John Thornton. Published in London 1799-1807, this publication had a total of thirty-one plates. They are among the most important (and most beautiful) botanical prints ever published.

The contemporary print is by local printmaker Marti Patchell. Although a student of art for many years, her introduction to etching and lithography came when she joined the administrative faculty of Georgetown University and began her study with BG Muhn, exploring the beauty of the black and white image. Marti’s love of gardening and nature translated to images of black and white flowers, shells and birds, and is constantly informing and inspiring her artistic endeavours.  This print of the cereus blossom was a study of Patchell’s own cereus plant in her home.

Image on Left: The Night-Blooming Cereus. By Dr. Robert John Thornton. Published by Dr. Thornton, London. Mezzotint printed in color and finished by hand, 1800.  Dunkarton sculp.  The flower by Reinagle, moon-light by Pether.

Image on Right: Cereus Bloom. By Marti Patchell. Copperplate etching and aquatint, 2009. Ed. 17/30.





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