Tuesday, February 20, 2007

One thing I dearly love is botanical prints. I have really old ones, most from the 18th and 19th centuries. I don't know why I like them but I do; I love them. By and large, the pieces that remain today are remnants of scientific, medical, or technical instructional books of sorts. One of the most famous sets of prints was commissioned by the Empress Josephine, who summoned Redoute to Malmaison to draw her roses. Those pieces now are invaluable, as this collection was extensive, definitive, and mastered stippling, an engraving technique that was to engraving as pointillism is to painting and pixels are to digital photography: little teeny dots. Kabillions of 'em.

Engraving prints was actually the manner in which images were captured back in the day, much as photography is used today. I bought several prints this weekend that were commissioned by the United States Pacific Railroad as they were completing the survey of California and Oregon in the 1850's. This was drawn between the 38th and 41st parallels. Subsequently, it was engraved as Plate XXXV and was catalogued as part of the USPRR Exp & Surveys Bird collection. Soon it will hang in my house at Bellemaison in a place of honor: it's the Mountain Bluebird.

I bought some very good and some fine prints this weekend, but bought what I loved. I left some rare, exceptional pieces behind, a dodo bird, but I will and do love the pieces I bought. I want to hang them as soon as possible. And that's the acid test for me: as beautiful as it is, and they all must be beautiful, will I hang it? okay, will I rush to hang it? can I imagine as I stand and try to decide about buying it what it might feel like to see this hang in my house? yes? yes? and yes? okay, you're in. Welcome to Hollywood.

These are going in the powder room and the old maps are coming down and going? in the library?

These two lift my spirit to such a heady place I can't decide exactly where they will hang.

And this guy, this guy here might get a shrine: he's a Grey Baboon, a native of warmer part of Africa. He was done in London on August 1st 1795 by F. P. Nodder of No. 15 Brewer Street.

So it official: we now have one big baboon.

The 'Kan EWA


jb3ll3 said...

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MarmiteToasty said...
I think they will be yellow, cos of the pale coloured stems..... but then I dont get much right in life at the moment lmfao


3:29 PM

Shelley said...
I think yellow too. For no reason except that's what I'd like them to be!

7:24 PM

The Fool said...
...either rellow or yed for sure.


9:49 PM

MarmiteToasty said...
re your previous post...... you made me hunt out a book, it took me yonks cos I put it safe somewhere and this house at the moment is overflowing with stuff, well its not a book as such, well it is lol, its dated 1938 and obviously nowhere near as old as your prints etc..... but, its Biological Drawings with Notes.... hand drawn and hand written, nothing typed..... there are 2 books, Im still hunting as to where I hid the other one..... it is bound in what we would think of today as recycled paper lol and I LOVE these books to death....... it goes from plants to insects, beautiful beautiful penned drawings in just black ink no colour, just perfect..... they are by Maud Jepson, M.Sc (Manchester) (First Class Honours in Zoology - Senior Science Mistress, Greek Street High School for Girls, Stockport) thats what it says inside the first page.... the pages are held together not by staples or bound by glue, but by thread......and were published by John Murray (Publishers), Ltd.... they aint worth tuppence to anyone but me..... and I treasure them :)

mel I pasted your comment over here because I have a reply! hang on!

jb3ll3 said...

Mel, I have only just settled into the book you sent me for Christmas. Crimbo. It's unbelievable. flat unbelievable. I know that this book will be one of my most cherished possessions and without going into detail, I've got quite a few possessions. :) This book floors me. And how could you possible know that it's so utterly me? Who are you really?

AS for your books dated 1938, they sound utterly marvelous. I would so love to see them someday. There is a thing about botanical prints that makes me sad: they are torn up books, now residing where the four winds would have them in people's houses on their walls. that really bothers me. I will think of your books and try to be happy. but as you know, it's so damn hard.


MarmiteToasty said...

:) I am just me BUT I have this inner weirdness, and I just knew that wonderful book was yours to own.......

I picked it up about 5 times and kept touching the cover over and over, and walked away and then back and away, but it kept calling me back and each time it pulled me in and I just knew it was for you......

:) love ya x


Carla said...

I have looked at this post several times. The prints are lovely. I, a short while back, inherited a lovely book called "A Garden Alphabet,” which contains 24 engravings from Batty Langley's "Pomona" or "The Fruit Garden Illustrated," something I treasure dearly. The grey baboon is fabulous. He should definitely be put in a place of prominence.