Robert Thornton’s ‘Temple of Flora’

Today, I managed to find a plate from one of the finest books ever made. It is the frontispiece to folio size of #TempleofFlora by #Dr.RobertJohnThornton published in 1807. Robert Thornton (1768-1837) was the son of Bonnell Thornton an English poet, essayist, and critic. Robert was studying at Trinity College, Cambridge for ordination into the Church when he was inspired by lectures given by Thomas Murray on botany and the work of Linnaeus. He eventually worked at Guys Hospital in London where he lectured on medical botany. Robert also traveled but settled in London to work. He, after the deaths of his mother and brother, inherited the family fortune.

Dr. Thornton’s homage to Linnaeus was his publishing of New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnaeus of which The Temple of Flora was the third and final part. The large folio sized floral prints are considered by many to be the most magnificent such work ever produced. Each print was the result of a mixture of elaborate engraving processes often employing mezzotint, aquatint, etching and line engraving on a single plate. The plates were printed in colour and finished by hand.

One might think that such a work would be successful but it failed to pique public interest. There were to be some 70 plates overall but when support for the work could not be found only around 33 plates were finished. They were collaborations between some of the best artists of the day. Paintings by Reinagle and Henderson were turned into engravings by Thomas Medland and Joseph Stadler as well as others.

The plate, as I said, is the frontispiece for Temple of Flora and shows ‘Cupid Inspiring Plants with Love’. The plant he is shooting at is Strelitzia reginae or ‘Queen plant’. Thomas Burke engraved it after a painting by Philip Reinagle and Thornton published it in 1805. A superb print executed with exquisite skill and artistry.


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Salvador Dali Surrealist

When we think of modern day artists, certainly, #SalvadorDali (1904 – 1989) is a name that comes to mind. Dali was born in Figueres, Catalonia, SpaIn. A talented draftsman, Dali is best known for his imaginatively striking and even bizarre images. He was one of the leading figures in the ‘Surrealist’ genre.

Greatly influenced by the Renaissance masters, he did not restrict himself in the medias in which he worked. A painter, an engraver, a sculptor, a photographer, a film maker – Dali dabbled in many artistic media. He not only dabbled but was efficient and even proficient in whatever media he chose to work in. He worked along side many great artists involved in those various fields.

Dali’s success came early. His works were exhibited in his home in the beginning. Studying first in ‘drawing school’ in Figueres and later in Madrid. His work in the area of ‘Cubism’ brought him notice while at school but his supreme painting skills were evidenced by his realistic work ‘The Basket of Bread‘. His studies finished, Dali visited Paris, where he met Picasso and Miro and many other Surrealist artists who had a great effect upon his work.

Dali created more than 1,500 paintings and numerous drawings, lithographs, etchings, films, books, and sculptures. Dali often used images and symbols which included melting clocks, elephants,eggs, ants, snails, and locusts in his works. Dali was highly imaginative, flamboyant, extravagant, and eccentric not only in his art but also in his person.

The two pieces in my collection are an etching of ‘Don Quixote – El Cid- Cervantes’ and a woodcut ‘The Black Devil – Canto 21 – Hell – The Inferno – The Divine Comedy – Dante’ . Both reveal his uniquely creative and imaginative style.

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Dehua Porcelain

Dehua porcelain is a white porcelain produced at Dehua in the Fujian province of China. The western or European name for it is ‘Blanc de Chine’ (white from China).

#Dehua porcelain has been produced from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) to the present day. Dehua porcelain concentrated in producing Buddhist and Daoist deities, vases, incense burners, stoves and teapots with reliefs of plum blossoms. By the 18th century, large quantities of Dehua porcelain was being exported to Europe and Japan. Some of these were altered in form and style so to appeal to Western tastes. Dehua porcelain was copied in Europe by porcelain makers such as Meissen and others. Within the porcelain originating in China, Dehua finds itself among the few makers on which potters seals can regularly be found. Dehua porcelain has a fine, grained, vitreous, white body stemming from the use of the local pulverised porcelain stone. It is covered by a thick satiny glaze which may vary in colour from milky white to ivory to a light rosy hue. The real problem with Dehua porcelain is that since traditional techniques were used for extensive periods of time as well as copying of traditional pieces and styles, it is very difficult to date.

The piece I acquired this past week has been greatly restored – as you can see. But since I paid very little for it I felt it a worthwhile purchase. It is of the goddess #Guanyin (Kuan Yin) with a child – she is the goddess of fertility. I believe it to be made in the 17th/18th and the only images I can find of other copies are in a collection of #BlancdeChine at Blenheim Palace (mostly collected in the 17th century).

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Wenceslaus Hollar Etchings

I have mentioned #WenceslausHollar previously as part of an earlier chapter. I acquired another small etching by him this past week but we will begin with a quick recap of the earlier chapter. The etching comes from Hollar’s work illustrating Virgil’s Aeneid. It was translated by John Ogilby and to finance the epic undertaking wealthy patrons were approached for support. In return they would receive an etching with text removed and a commendation to the patron. One hundred and three full-page illustrations were commissioned from a number of the best known artists of the time. They include Francis Cleyn, Wenceslaus (Vacaville) Hollar, Pierre Lombard, Ludwig Richer, and William Faithorne.

From a folio size etching to a much smaller one (2 3/4 x 5 1/2″ – cut on plate mark). Hollar was in Antwerp, in 1646, where he produced many of his most renowned works. Dutch cityscapes, seascapes, depictions of nature, still-life’s, and his ‘muffs’ and ‘shells’ series. My version (#3) of the run (full number unknown) has the two mishap scratch lines which occurred late in the etching process. A line coming from the top of the mole’s snout (toward top right)and a line coming out of the lower foot can be seen. It is signed by Hollar in the plate as well as the year of creation and there is a small number three in the bottom right corner. .

Hollar produced some 400 illustrations and some 3,000 etchings. A very prolific artist but not a successful one financially for he died a destitute.

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Jean Baptiste Mallet

Today, we visit an artist known for both painting and engraving. #JeanBaptisteMallet (1759 – 1835) is not a well known artist for there is little information to be found on him. A Frenchman born in the city of Grasse in 1759. His studies took him to Toulon to work under Simon Julien and then to Paris to work with Pierre Prud’hom. Mallet was a frequent exhibitor at the Salons of Paris hanging works from 1793 to 1827.

His talent increased as can be seen by the medals he won – a second class medal in 1812 and a first class in 1817. Although he was a capable portrait artist, he preferred interior and genre scenes. He also painted nudes, bathing beauties and mythological scenes.

Mallet was greatly influenced by the Dutch masters before him. His exquisite treatment of curtains and fabric is highly regarded. His brushwork was meticulous and precise. His depiction of interiors is a wealth of information as to the styles of interior design and decoration.

During his lifetime, Mallet had a great deal of success and many of his paintings were copied or made into prints. He himself was a fine engraver employing the stipple method. His talent can be seen in the four stipple engravings displayed today. A set of four depicting the four seasons – printemp, ete, automne, hiver. All are printed in black and brown ink and then other colours are brushed on except for Automne which has black, brown and green ink are used in the printing and then coloured.

The body/skin appears in the reddish brown ink and the rest in black ink but only in L’automne’ do we find brown (skin) and black (all the rest) inks and then a greenish ink for the dress.

Sublime artistry and talent displayed for us by a man we should know more about.

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Marion Rhodes

Today, we consider artist #MarionRhodes (1907 – 1988). Marion was born in the town of Lockwood which is an area of Huddersfield. She studied at Huddersfield School of Art, Leeds College of Art, and finished her studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. She studied as a painter-print maker. She specialised in landscape and architectural views.
She is best known as an etcher, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy and Paris Salon. Throughout her career she won several bronze, silver and gold awards at those exhibitions and her work is represented in collections, including the British Museum and the V&A.
Marion's etching from my collection is of the Coronation Procession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It is a detailed and intricate work as an etching and was then hand coloured. A little piece of history recorded by an artist.
For my Canadian readers, please look closely at the first sign on the grandstand on the left. This was the placement of the Canadian contingent for the procession.

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Gustave Louis Jaulmes

Today's artist, #GustaveLouisJaulmes (1873-1959) was born in Switzerland and died in Paris.  He was an eclectic artist whose vast range of interests and wonder had him creating monumental frescoes, paintings, posters, illustrations, cartoons for tapestries,  carpets and decorations for objects such as enamels, sets of plates and furniture.  

Jaulmes was a neo-classicist in the Art Deco movement.  His early education was in Paris where he eventually studied to be an architect.  By 1902, Jaulme had quit architectural design for life as a painter.  As a muralist, his approach was that whatever his topic the artwork itself should grow out of the building and space being painted.  Jaulmes became known for his monumental frescos and paintings, his posters and his decorative objects.  He worked with Adrien Karbowsky on frescos for the Villa Kerylos and the Palais de Chaillot in 1902–08.  They decorated the walls of the villa with scenes from Greek mythology as chosen by scholar Théodore Reinach, often copied from Attic pottery (ancient Greek black and red pottery).  The drawing shown may be a sketch for a section of those walls.  He was a member of L'Atalier Français whose goal was the combining traditional and modern ideas to bring clarity, order and aesthetic unity to interior design.  Jaulmes received many public and private commissions to create murals for hotels, casinos, town halls and exhibition rooms.  He contributed decorations to the 1921 International Exposition in Ghent, and for three International Expositions in Paris.

As for my drawing by Jaulmes, I have titled it 'The Lovers' and it's style leads me to believe it comes early in his career.  It may be part of his work done with Karbowsky for the Palais de Chaillot.  Even so, it displays an ease of creation, a deftness of touch, and an eye for colour and space.  It is a lovely work and makes me want to visit to those places where his murals and frescos decorate the walls and ceilings.

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Jane Austen 

One expects that great and renowned authors like #JaneAusten would be instantly recognisable but in fact only five or six images of Miss Austen have been authenticated and most of them are taken from a drawing done by Jane’s sister Cassandra.  I would like to introduce you to Jane Austen – a new image (as yet unauthenticated).  

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour – by Ellen Douglas @ 1806

The only truly authentic pictures of Jane are those done by her sister, Cassandra.  There are of course others – the ‘Rice’ portrait displaying the image of Jane as a precocious 13 year old – the recently uncovered ‘Byrne’ portrait showing Jane as a working and accomplished authoress – the ‘Clark’ portrait of a somewhat more flamboyant personage.  Experts have found problems with each image- but I digress- I am not here to argue pros and cons but introduce my image. 

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour portrait

We begin with the stylised JA with the date 1806 just beneath it.  The date of 1806 would make this pictures creation date prior to Cassandra’s sketch and Jane would have been 30 at the time.  As far as the artist ‘Ellen Douglas’ I have been unable to garner any information.  She is of course a character in Walter Scott’s poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’ composed around 1810 so the character might be based upon a real personage but that is another digression not to be taken.

The drawing is done with some skill – portraying a real person – not a rough sketch or impression.  A half length image of Jane seated with her curly tresses exposed.  The style of her dress is indicative of the stated date 1806 and of dresses which she appears in in other portrayals.  Jane was above average in heighth with grace and poise.  Her face long and round with large hazel eyes and fairly dark brown naturally curly hair.  She was described as ‘pretty’.  Jane regularly wore a bonnet or cap so this portrait would certainly have been done in a relaxed and personal location with someone she knew and trusted.  No indication of when in 1806 the portrait was done so no location for the sitting.  

Jane Austen – graphite and body colour @ 1806

I am not an expert on images of Jane Austen but to my eye this portrait could be another step in solving one of the oldest mysteries in English literature – that of the appearance of Jane Austen. 

I am informed by a professional on Miss Austen that the dress the lady is wearing is not of the correct age.  It comes from the 1830’s – 1840’s and so the young lady in the picture could not be Jane Austen.

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Men of the Cloth

We will continue from last chapters characters, Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley, with two more portraits of great religious leaders.  Let’s begin with the Rev. John Fletcher.   

Rev. John Fletcher – etching by J. Thomson

#JohnWilliamFletcher (1729-1785) was born in Nyon, Switzerland.  His real name was Jean Guillaume de la Flechere.  He was educated in Geneva and chose enlisted life after his schooling.  An accident forced him out of the military and he traveled to England to become a tutor.  The family resided in London for part of each year and while there John Fletcher first heard of the Methodists and became personally acquainted with John and Charles Wesley, as well as his future wife, Mary Bosanquet.  Mary Bosanquet is known for being the first woman preacher, authorized by John Wesley to preach, in 1770.  Fletcher was ordained in the Church of England and chose to serve in Madeley in Shropshire.  Wesley described him as the holiest man he had ever met, or ever expected to meet “this side of eternity.” He was zealous in work and life and was driven by a sincere religious and social concern for the people in his care. Wesley had chosen him to be the next leader of the Methodists but he died prior to Wesley’s passing.  

Rev. John Cennick – engraving by

#JohnCennick (1718 – 1755) was born in Reading, Berkshire and raised in the Church of England.  He was greatly influenced by John Wesley but had a number of theological differences with him.  Cennick became an itinerant evangelist in England and Ireland, enduring tremendous and often violent opposition. By the time of his early death ( 36 years of age), he had established over 40 churches.  He was also a hymn writer, some of which can still be found today and is credited with bringing Evangelicalism to Ireland”

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A Pair of Portraits

Two stipple engraving portraits by two separate artists are today’s focus.  Let’s begin with a work by #WilliamHoll Sr. (1771-1838) (I believe) of #ThomasCranmer.  

Thomas Cranmer – stipple engraving by William Holl Sr. @ 1829

William Holl Is thought to be of German background.  He studied stipple engraving under Benjamin Smith and Holl became a noted exponent of “chalk manner” engraving, based on the simulation of chalk lines on paper.  Holl was noted for his numerous engraved portraits, a number of which were published for Edmund Lodge’s Portraits of Illustrious Personages of Great Britain.  Holl was one of the earliest users of the steel plates in engraving rather than copper.  Holl had five sons.  Four followed him in the etching profession and one became an actor.  William Holl Jr started his own career with an image of Cranmer in 1829 but it is definitely not this image.

Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Cantebury and lived during the time of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell.  He was the creator/compiler of the Common Book of Prayer used in the Anglican Church.

We next look at Scottish portrait miniaturist, #JohnCochran.  He worked in stipple and line engraving and was also a painter in watercolours.  

Nicholas Ridley – stipple engraving by John Cochran @ 1834

Cochran contributed engravings to numerous publications and his portraits are now-a-days in major gallery print collections.

Both artists are superb proponents for the art of stipple engraving.  Exquisite technique and sublime artistry are the foundation upon which they built their well-deserved reputations.

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