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Tuesday, August 7, 2012


ROXBURGH, William (1751–1815). 

2 volumes, 8vo., (237 x 167mm). A MAGNIFICENT COLLECTION OF 463 ORIGNAL WATERCOLOUR DRAWINGS of plants, each captioned in pencil, (a few short tears and chips to edges, a few old tape repairs on versos, some occasional spotting and light browning, some worming to last 60 watercolours). Contemporary full green straight-grained morocco (finely and expertly rebacked to style).

Unnamed local artists, thought to be executed for William Roxburgh, [Calcutta?, ca. 1812-1814].

Provenance: Massachusetts Horticultural Society (small stamp on each watercolour; sold, Christie's New York, 18 December 2002, lot 109).

Roxburgh described some 2,600 species of plants between 1793 and 1813 while he was superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden. Though his descriptions were published posthumously in the ‘Flora Indica’ (included here), this work was not illustrated, and in total only 700, a small percentage of the many drawings done for him, were actually published, appearing in his ‘Plants of the Coast of Coromandel’ and also in Robert Wight's ‘Icones plantarum Indiae Orientalis’.

This present group of unpublished watercolours were drawn by local Indian artists and are highly likely to have been commissioned by Roxburgh. Other sets of unpublished drawings executed by Indian artists exist, most in folio format. The most complete are those in the Calcutta Botanic Garden and a duplicate set sent to the East India Company, now at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

[With:] -- ROXBURGH, William (1751–1815). Flora Indica; or, Descriptions of Indian Plants. Serampore: Printed for W. Thacker & Co. and Parbury, Allen and Co., 1832.

3 volumes, 8vo. (207 x 130mm). FIRST EDITION. Stafleu & Cowan 9725. Uniformly bound and similarly rebacked as the two plate volumes.

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