Ellen Harding (British 1809-1893), Fern Album Containing, A Few of the Rarest, Commonest, and Prettiest, of the British and Foreign Ferns
Fern Album Containing, A Few of the Rarest, Commonest, and
Prettiest, of the British and Foreign Ferns, By Ellen Harding.
Watercolor on paper
1862-[1864 or later].
Folio (18 1/2 x 14 in). Mounted on guards throughout. Original calligraphic title in red and black ink, with carte-devisite sized photograph of Ellen Harding laid-down in the lower left-hand corner, 2 leaves of calligraphic indices in red and black, 78 FINE ORIGINAL WATERCOLORS OF FERNS, made from laying the original subjects down and spraying black ink background, each with identifying calligraphic legend on an integral trompe-l’oeil variously-coloured ribbon (or cornucopia , cartouche , book ), one dated 1864. Contemporary green morocco gilt, spine in seven compartments, lettered in one, the others with repeat pattern composed from various small flower tools, gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt. (extremities lightly scuffed).
A FINE VICTORIAN FERN ALBUM. The Victorians’ interest in ferns has almost become a cliché but was in fact only part of a much wider search to understand and codify the natural world. The 19th century was the age of the intelligent amateur, a time when the relative lack of knowledge and the leisure to pursue it allowed the lay-man or woman to contribute discoveries that were new to science. In pursuit of botanical knowledge, many fine collections were assembled, and, in an effort to record these collections, the traditional social skill of drawing took on a distinctly scientific bias. Various families of plants became fashionable targets: Orchids; Camellias; Seaweeds; and from the 1850s, Ferns.
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