This very appealing hand colored 18th century copper plate engraving is from the book ‘The Aurelian or natural history of English insects, namely Moths and Butterflies’ by Moses Harris and was published in 1766. Moses Harris was an English entomologist and engraver who was born 15 April 1730 and died around the year 1788. Our editions are from either the 1st edition published in 1766 or the 2nd edition published in 1778. Harris's detailed engravings showed the insect through varying stages of its life cycle including egg, pupa, chrysalis, caterpillar and adult, he also showed the plants on which they fed and laid eggs upon.
The large hand coloured engraved plate features a variety of beautiful moths and butterflies printed up on laid paper. This example is printed on a rare paper with a Fleur-de-lis watermark above the initials ‘G. R’, the watermarks was used by an unknown paper manufacturer during the 18th century.
The 18th century print is housed behind glass under a decorative hand washed pale lemon stepped mount set within the most decorative hand textured frame.
The plate reads ‘To Mr. Andrew Peter Dupont. This plate is humbly dedicated by his most obedient serv’t Mofes Harris.’
This original 18th century engraving is sold as one of a set of matching four. They were framed at the same gallery in 1987, only one of the frames has the framer's label which reads:
‘Print Gallery, Sarsden Cottage, Sarsden, Oxfordshire. Hand coloured engravings from the collection of H. R. Sykes, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire. Mounted and Framed Summer 1987 as designed by Mr. Sykes.’
Measuring: Frame width 19 7/8 inch (51 cm) by height 23 3/8 inch (59.5 cm). Frame depth 1 1/8 inch (3 cm). Aperture width 9.75 inch (25 cm) by height 12.75 inch (32 cm). Sheet size: Width 30 cm by height 48 cm. Plate size width 23.5 cm by height 31 cm.
Condition: PLXLI good condition.
Such 18th century botanical engravings epitomise classic English country house style with their lightness and openness of design partnered with their timeless elegance and tranquil feel.
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