105 New Bond Street London W1S 1DN England 44.207.493.0876
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$ 56,000

Twelve Months of Flowers

Documentation Ample Provenance
Origin France
Period Pre 18th Century
Materials hand coloured plates
W. 21.65 in; H. 26.77 in;
W. 55 cm; H. 68 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1730
Description Rare complete set of what was essentially a ground-breaking and highly decorative flowers catalogue: an incomparable record of the most sort-after types and varieties of flower that could be grown in temperate regions during the early eighteenth century. Here with fine hand-colouring.

In the early eighteenth century, the most important trade association for the purchase, sale, and exchange of plants and seeds was the Society of Gardeners. Its members would bring specimens to monthly meetings at a coffee-house in Chelsea for discussion and to standardise plant names. For reference purposes a selection of the plants might be drawn. This, combined with the wishes of clients to have notes on cultivation, led to the evolution of illustrated catalogues, often handsomely produced.

Of all the publications produced by members of the Society of Gardeners, that of Robert Furber (circa 1674-1756) displayed the most originality. His nursery, in Kensington Road near Hyde Park, was extremely successful, and having already published a couple of modest lists, he produced the present, extravagant catalogue illustrated in the grand manner.

Rather than producing a conventional brochure, Furber engaged the Flemish artist, Pieter Casteels (1684-1749), resident in London and well-known for his still-life compositions, to execute 12 portrayals of flowers bunched in ornamental vases and urns, one for each month of the year. Each presented a baroque bouquet of more than thirty different flowers, all obtainable from the Furber nursery. Casteels completed his commission by September 1731, upon which subscribers were reminded to send the balance of their subscription. A thirteenth plate with the subscribers’ names within a floral border was produced in March 1732 dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, and the 435 subscribers. Sets of the plates were made available to non-subscribers at one pound five shillings plain, or two pounds twelve shillings and six pence coloured. A number against every flower, identified in a key at the bottom of the plate, was used by customers when ordering.

Furber’s catalogue was produced to appeal to florists, and, reflecting the taste of the day, there are 26 varieties of auricula, and nineteen of the anenome. Hyacinth, tulip, and ranunculas are also well represented.

The catalogue was a huge success, and the images were used as the basis for later engravings by print makers such as Robert Sayer and John Overton, as well being used in embroidery and other decorative arts.
Styles / Movements Other
Dealer Reference Number 89261
Incollect Reference Number 337301
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