The temple of flora, or garden of the botanist, poet, painter and philosopher.

The temple of flora, or garden of the botanist, poet, painter and philosopher. Robert John Thornton.
The temple of flora, or garden of the botanist, poet, painter and philosopher.

London: The Folio Society, (2008. facsimile). Large quarto, 34 coloured plates, in quarter green morocco, a pictorial design in colours and gilt on the front board; with commentary volume by Stephen Harris, large octavo, in cloth with paper label: together in fitted cloth box (a little marked). With a duplicate plate in paper sleeve, as issued, limited to 1980 numbered copies.

More than two centuries have passed since the publication of Robert John Thornton's "The Temple of Flora" in 1799, but its charm remains unsullied. Although trained as a medical doctor, Thornton (c. 1768-1837) passionately devoted himself to botany. Only a few decades earlier, Carl Linnaeus had established his revolutionary new system of classification, which today continues to form the backbone of such natural sciences as botany and zoology. Thornton greatly honored the ingenious Swedish scientist and wished his own prodigious undertaking to serve as an ultimate monument to the great botanist. Today, Thornton's large-format plates with their stunning floral portraits number among supreme achievements of botanical illustration. Thornton engaged the most renowned flower painters of his age and spared no cost in the creation of this unique work.
Surviving complete editions of the Temple number today among the great treasures of only a few libraries; meanwhile, the individual plates have become sought-after and extremely expensive collectors' items, whose particular allure lies in their unusual combination of monumental, at times exotic plants with highly romantic background landscapes. More than any other floral painting, the bewitchingly illuminated blossoms of the "Night-Blooming Cereus", posed before darkening ruins, expresses the late 18th-century sentiment that in the following decades found its characteristic expression in European Romantic literature and painting. Including all the plates of the "Temple of Flora", this edition represents a consummate reprint of the work.

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