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Botanical, Art, Garden Flowers, Four Antique Prints, Horticultural Society of London, 1805-48

William Hooker (1779–1832), Barbara Cotton (active ca. 1810–30), Miss Drake, et al. (after)
William Hooker (1779–1832), William Say (1768–1834), C. Fox, et al. (engravers)
Hybrid Amaryllis Regina Vittata, Vol. V, Pl. 15
Crinum Governium Hybridum, Vol. 3. Pl VI
The Double Sweet Scented Chinese Peony, Vol. 3, Pl XVIII
The Purple-fruited Passion-flower, Vol 3. Pl III
from Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London
Horticultural Society of London, London: 1805-48
Hand-colored etchings with aquatint and stipple engraving
14 x 10.75 inches, sight size
15.25 x 11 inches, print overall
22.75 x 18 inches, French mat overall
Prices on request

A group of four magnificent botanical prints featuring beautiful ornamental garden flowers: Amaryllis Regina Vittata and Crinum Governium (both in the amaryllis family); a purple-fruited passionflower; and a Chinese peony. These prints are all rare extra-large fold-out images from the comprehensive collection of works in Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, and among the most prized engravings from the set in that they illustrate some of the work’s showiest garden flowers. We offer the two amaryllis prints as a pair, and the other two singly, though they would also make an excellent set of four. Each print is offered in a pale pink French mat with a painted single line and pink inner border.

Product description continues below.


Historian Margaret Highland describes a set of Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London in the collection of the Bartow-Pell mansion in the Bronx, New York:

The title is businesslike, but the Transactions teem with the latest horticultural discoveries, innovations, and research from the first half of the 19th century. Beautiful hand-colored plates are scattered like gems throughout the letterpress pages.

The fine botanical prints in Transactions were the product of the work of some of the most esteemed botanical artists and engravers of the day, including William Hooker. The rich colors and accurate floral detailing of these exquisite prints are a product of various sophisticated engraving techniques. Highland quotes landscape designer and former Bartow-Pell Conservancy president Marion Mundy regarding the production of the prints from this series:

“The prints in the Transactions use a variety of engraving and etching techniques to achieve their remarkable brilliance, texture, and dimensionality. The aquatint was used to shade or produce a tonal effect over large areas. Stippling also helped to simulate varying degrees of solidity or shading. Finally, many of the plates in Transactions were further enhanced by hand coloring, literally creating unique works of art.”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was an intersection of scientific classification of botanical specimens with a horticultural interest in discovering, propagating, collecting, and selling new species for practical as well as ornamental uses. Highland summarizes this period, which was reflected contemporaneously in color plate botanical sets:

 A palpable enthusiasm for outside-the-box thinking and Enlightenment principles created the perfect cocktail for an ever-evolving fount of new scientific knowledge and discoveries. And horticulture was part of that buzz. … The members of the Horticultural Society of London were at the forefront of this energy, and they sponsored expeditions around the globe in search of new varieties of plants.

Amaryllis Regina Vittata after artist Barbara Cotton, offered here as one of a pair of amaryllis prints, was chosen at Barton-Pell for public display, as described by Highland as a premier example of “a spectacular oversized illustration” from their original set. The other amaryllis print of the pair offered here is equally esteemed. This pair evokes the style and quality of the works of Priscilla Susan Bury in her color plate prints of hexandrian plants, published in London in the early 1830s. The offered peony print is reminiscent and on par with the great French botanical prints of Pierre-Joseph Redouté. The print offered here of the passionflower, with its striking purple fruit, combines interesting botanical composition and scientific precision.

William Hooker was a British botanical artist, particularly esteemed for his depictions of fruit and foliage. After studying botanical illustration with Francis Bauer, he co-published the botanical periodical Paradisus Londinensis with R.A. Salisbury from 1805 to 1808. Hooker engraved the drawings of James Forbes for Oriental Memoirs (1813-15). He served as the official artist to the Horticultural Society of London from 1812 to 1820 and regularly illustrated their Transactions. His innovations in botanical painting led to the naming of the color Hooker’s green, a dark green color created by mixing Prussian blue and gamboge. Contrary to popular assumptions, he was not related to his contemporary Sir William Jackson Hooker, a famous botanist who was director of Kew Gardens.

Condition: Each generally fine overall good with only minor overall light toning, wear, handling,  the flowers retaining bright original color. Each with horizontal folds and tight margins, as issued to accommodate inclusion in smaller folio, recently archivally mounted on thin museum mat board to flatten folds.


Dunthorne, Gordon. Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries. Their History, Makers and Uses, with a Catalogue Raisonne of the Works in Which They are Found.  Washington, D.C.: Published by the Author, 1938. 142.

Highland, Margaret. “A Botanical Paradise: Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London.” Mansion Musings. 6 Jan. 2019. (9 May 2024).

Additional information


19th Century