Description

    Joseph Dalton Hooker. The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discvoered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya, from Drawings and Descriptions Made on the Spot, during a Government Botanical Mission to that Country...Edited by Sir W. J. Hooker...Second Edition. London: Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, 1849-1851. Second edition of the first part, first edition of the second and third parts? Three parts in one large folio volume ( x inches; mm.). Title to Part I with tinted lithographed vignette, two letterpress part titles, list of subscribers, preface to Part II. Thirty fine hand-colored lithographed plates, including frontispiece, by Walter Hood Fitch, after the author. Some heightened with gum arabic.
    Original parts wrappers bound in.
    "An important work for both the botanist and horticulturalist since it contains descriptions and plates of many of the best Rhododendron species...and an account of their discovery" (Great Flower Books).
    "[Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911)], an eminent botanist, naturalist and physician, grew up in a household where scientific studies and botanical illustration were considered to be a part of daily life. He was the son of William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865), professor of botany at the University of Glasgow and editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, for which he also provided many illustrations. In 1841, when the extensive botanical gardens at Kew passed out of private hands and were conveyed to the nation, becoming the Royal Botanic Gardens, William Hooker was named the first official Director; he occupied this position for twenty-four years (Allan, p. 15). Hooker's scientific training began at an early age with research on the plants in his father's herbal garden (Daniels, p. 38), where it is known that he made a special study of mosses. In 1839, as assistant surgeon on HMS Erebus, he accompanied a scientific expedition to Antarctica. This was only the first of many voyages for Hooker, who in this way was able to make an exhaustive study of the flora of many distant countries. In 1855 he became Assistant Director at Kew Gardens, and in 1865 he succeeded his father as Director, filling this position with distinction for twenty years. The Hookers, father and son, oversaw the expansion of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew into the largest botanical garden in the world, and the unique scientific institution it remains to this day.
    Hooker was the author of various important works on exotic flora, including Flora Antarctica (1844-7), Flora Novae-Zelandiae (1852-5), Flora Tasmaniae (1855-60) and Flora Indica (1855). He became a scientist of international renown, and in recognition of his achievements received numerous titles and appointments, including that of President of the prestigious Royal Society...Like his father, Hooker was a highly skilled botanical illustrator, and he never abandoned the sound practice of sketching species of scientific interest from life whenever opportunity. Thus he utilized the large number of studies in watercolours and pen and ink drawn by him on the spot during a botanical expedition to the eastern Himalayas to illustrate The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya.
    Following his return to England, Hooker's drawings were lithographed by the artist Walter Hood Fitch...A native, like Hooker, of Glasgow, Fitch was a brilliant practitioner of the art of lithography, which well before the end of the nineteenth century had revolutionized the process of book illustrations...When Hooker was appointed Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, he asked that Fitch accompany him to Kew. During his lifetime Fitch produced for Hooker, for his son Joseph, and for many other botanists a total of nearly 10,000 botanical plates. For Curtis's Botanical Magazine alone he prepared 2,900 illustrations. Fitch's intuitive grasp of plant structure and confident draughtsmanship permitted him to draw his illustrations directly on the lithographic stone, thus lending his printed plates a lifelike spontaneity...This volume on the rhododendrons of the Himalayas is a fine example of Fitch's art. In his lithographs he has captured the exuberant form and colour of these flowering shrubs, many of which in this very period came to be acclimatized in European gardens. Each plate is accompanied by a meticulously written letterpress by Joseph Hooker. Sometimes at the base of the plate, magnified views of the pistils, stamens and sections of the ovaries are presented. The first plate is unusually attractive because the plant, a Rhododendron dalhousiae...is shown in its native habitat, growing among the trunks of fallen trees against a hazy background of blue mountains. In 1855 Fitch prepared the lithographs, this time after drawings by local artists, for another book by Joseph Hooker, Illustrations of Himalayan Plants" (An Oak Spring Flora, pages 388-391).


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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