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 with watercolor. These prints (generally around 21" by 17") are extremely valuable, selling into the thousands of dollars, 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 popular and sought after in the prints marketplace. These two images are from that 1812 smaller size set. The titles are "The Nodding Renealmia", and "The Superb Lily". The"Renealmia" image was drawn by Peter Charles Henderson (active 1790's-1829) and engraved by John Roffe (1769-1850). "The Superb Lily" was drawn by Philip Reinagle (1749-1833) and engraved by Quilley et. al. The prints both measure 12 1/4" by 8 3/4" inside the mat and 18 1/2" by 14 3/4", as identically framed. The prints have not been examined out of the frames but appear to be in good condition, with normal browning of the paper after 200 years. The framing and old-style hand-drawn mat with gold add to the antique appeal. Allow for reflections in a few images.
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