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DOCTOR ROBERT JOHN THORNTON rare 1812 botanical print "Pontic Rhododendron" quarto edition
Collectors of fine botanical prints know that the works of Doctor "Doc" Thornton are among the finest of the fine, their technical complexity surpassing virtually all other efforts over the centuries. Thornton (1768-1837) was a medical doctor and botanical writer and lecturer in medical botany. He was educated at Cambridge and inherited a family fortune, but dissipated it in the course of his heroic effort to produce a landmark series of botanical prints. The "Temple of Flora" series, as it is known, was originally to be a set of seventy images but only thirty some were ever issued. The 1802 issue was the apex of the effort, the large size showing the fine mixed technique (mezzotint and aquatint engraving, stipple and line) to its best effect, the prints printed in color but also hand finished. These prints are extremely valuable and coveted today by collectors and interior designers. In the year 1812, a smaller scale re-engraving set in quarto size was issued, and today even these are sought after in the prints marketplace. This image is from that 1812 smaller size set. The title is "Pontic Rhododendron", the subject a plant with light blue flowers, a yellow butterfly flitting at upper right. The plant is native to the Levant (Middle East). The image was drawn by Peter Charles Henderson (active 1790's-1829) and engraved by John Roffe (1769-1850). This example measures 11 1/4" by 8 3/4" inside the velvety greenish mat and 20 1/4" by 16 1/2" as framed. Affixed to the reverse is the original printed page detailing the plant. The print has not been examined out of the frame but appears to be in good condition. I obtained the work from the recently liquidated fine estate of actor Glenn Ford and his wife Eleanor Powell in Beverly Hills. A certificate from the family certifying the provenance would be available upon request. SEE HUNDREDS OF OTHER PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND PRINTS NOW IN MY SHOP.
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Jon Berg, Southern California, CA
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