Pieter Casteels (1684-1749) after, Twelve Months of Flowers
Pieter Casteels (1684-1749), after
Twelve Months of Flowers
Robert Furber (c. 1674-1756)
Kensington: Robert Furber, 1730[-1732]
12 Hand-colored engravings
Sight size: 16 1/2 x 12 1/2" each
Frame size: 26 x 21 1/2" each
Originally published as a catalogue of plants and flowers for sale out of his Kensington nursery, Robert Furber envisioned this project as a complete departure from the modest pamphlets usually produced by floriculturists of the day. The twelve lavishly illustrated plates represent nearly 400 different species of flowers grouped according to the month in which they bloom. The compositions reflect the grand style of the Baroque period, with the flowers arranged in perfected bouquets, set in decorative and stylized urns resting on a plinth. Each flower is numbered to correspond with the legend printed at the bottom of the plate flanking either side of the cartouche identifying the month of the year.
Visualized as a flower catalogue, the scale of the endeavor quickly grew as Furber collaborated with renowned Dutch artist Pieter Casteels to do the illustrations. Casteels had emigrated from Antwerp to England, where he gained great acclaim as a painter of birds and flowers. Having finished the elaborate and sumptuous bouquets, Casteels's paintings were then engraved by Henry Fletcher, an artist well know for his replications of famous paintings and portraits. After printing, the plates were finished in color by hand.
It is uncertain whether the Twelve Months of Flowers actually bolstered the sales of seeds and flowers at Furber's nursery, but the popularity of these gorgeous prints was so great that the catalogue was reprinted numerous times and in various sizes throughout the eighteenth century. In most of these later editions, the plates were reversed during engraving, and were applied with heavy colour to obscure the numbers. As a result, the original intention for these plates was eclipsed as they are primarily admired for their beautiful, decorative quality.
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