Bernard Leon (Active Nineteenth Century), Study for the chromolithograph of Camellia Hallei...
Bernard Leon (Active Nineteenth Century)
Study for the chromolithograph of Camellia Hallei from G. .Severyns, Nouvelle Iconographie des Camellias (Ghent: A. Vershaffelt, 1850-60)
Pen and brown ink with watercolor and bodycolor on paper
Paper size: 10 1/2” x 7 1/8”
Frame size: 21” x 17 3/4”
Signed l.l.: Bernard - Leon Inscribed l.c.: Camellia Halleii Inscribed l.r.: 5e Livrision
Nouvelle Iconographie des Camellias was published in eleven volumes (of thirteen), including more than 600 chromolithographic plates in colors made by G. Severeyns, L. Stroobant, Bernard Leon, and others, and printed by Severeyns and Stroobant. This was one of the most beautiful books ever published on camellias. It served, in a very grand form, as a camellia catalogue for a nursery operated by the Verschaffelt family in Belgium, and was edited over the years by Ambroise, Alexandre, and the younger Ambroise Verschaffelt. The title pages promise pictures, and descriptions of the rarest, newest, and the most beautiful varieties of camellia and the firm had all the latest camellias, whether newly discovered, newly created, or freshly imported. Adorning the work’s lavish pages are varieties with such exotic names as Count Bobrinsky, developed in their own nursery and named by them for a Russian camellia enthusiast, or the Palmerii vera, originating in England but first imported into Belgium by the Verschaffelts.
What the chromolithograph cannot impart, however, is the vibrancy and delicacy of touch displayed by Leon is this magnificent watercolor. The lightly feathered strokes used to create shading on the camellia petals and the veins of the plant leaves are truly masterful, and the color remains as vibrant as the day the painting was created.
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