Selection of Georg Dionysius Ehret hand colored engravings depicting local flora and sea fauna of Barbados. Each is dedicated to a prominent person in elaborate engraved calligraphy and accompanied by a rendering of the dedicatee’s coat of arms. The prints come from a diverse natural history illustrated work by the Reverend Griffith Hughes, A.M. Ehret produced 30 original pictures for the work, and he engraved some of them as well (Blunt, 164). James Mynde is credited as an engraver on many of the other prints.
Georg Dionysus (G.D.) Ehret was the dominant influence in botanical art during the 18th century. He was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and trained as a gardener. He became the protégé of the Margrave of Baden-Durlach, who hired him to design and draw plans for town and palace gardens at Karlsruhe and make paintings of his flowers. After leaving the Margrave's employ, he made his way to Regensburg, where he met Johann Wilhelm Weinmann. Ehret was engaged to produced drawings for Phythanoza Iconographia, which became his first published works. Upon producing the first 500 drawings, he had a dispute with Weinmann over the considerably low payment he was given, and obtained a new position copying plates for another patron, while also working independently on new paintings.
About this time, Ehret’s talents were recognized by Dr. Jakob Trew of Nuremberg, who became his lifelong patron and friend. With Trew's backing, Ehret was able to leave his copying job. He travelled through Europe, eventually passing through Leiden in 1736, where he met the eminent naturalist Linnaeus, and then went to England, where he remained the rest of his life. In London, he had a busy and successful career as a painter and instructor, obtaining numerous commissions from aristocratic patrons with several duchesses and countesses among his pupils. He produced an important body of botanical paintings, including plates for a number of florilegia and travel books, notably Trew's Plantae Selectae (1750-73) and Hortus Nitidissimis (1750-86) and his own publication, Plantae Paliliones Rariores (1748-59). Ehret was multitalented; he often made the original drawings and engraved his own plates. In 1757, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. His works today are represented in many important museum collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Natural History Museum.
Griffith Hughes was a cleric and naturalist, thought to have been born in England. He was educated at Oxford in 1729 and ordained an Anglican deacon and priest in 1732, and thereupon sent to Pennsylvania to work as a missionary among the Welsh Quakers. Due to health problems, in 1736 he was transferred to St. Lucy’s Parish in Barbados. In 1748 he returned to England and finished his bachelor's and master's degrees, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1750 he produced The Natural History of Barbados, which is notable in part for containing the first scientific report of the existence of the grapefruit, a natural hybrid that appeared on Barbados, which Griffith referred to as “the forbidden fruit.” The work was praised by the eminent biologist Linnaeus. Apparently Hughes did not return to the ministry afterwards.
James Mynde was a British engraver, working in London on a range of subjects including portraits, landscape and natural history plates, and also engraved the gores for some of James Ferguson's globes. He is noted for his anatomical plates and portraits.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light overall toning and wear.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 6, p. 292.
Blunt, Wilfred, rev. by Stearn, William T. The Art of Botanical Illustration. Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collectors Club, 1994. pp. 25, 155, 159-166.
Jenkins, Robert Thomas. "Hughes, Griffith." Welsh Biography Online. 2009. http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-HUGH-GRI-1707.html (23 February 2011).