Priscilla Susan Bury, Pl. 31 Superior Variegated Amaryllis, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, 1831–34, hand-colored aquatint engraving

$5,500 this week only (list price $7,500). Offer expires 4-9-2018

Laura Oppenheimer

Priscilla Susan Bury, Pl. 31 Superior Variegated Amaryllis, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants1831–34hand-colored aquatint engraving

This week only, enjoy a substantial discount on an exquisite aquatint engraving,  Pl.31, Superior Variegated Amaryllis, Amaryllis Superba (title on plate)a hand-colored aquatint engraving after the watercolor drawing by Mrs. Edward Bury, from her celebrated work, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae. The folio was engraved and hand-colored by Robert Havell, Jr, the same engraver who produced the plates for John James Audubon’s monumental Birds of America

In the accompanying text, Bury provides a brief description under the heading, Amaryllis Vittata (superba): "This figure was from a bulb received from Brazil, by Mrs. Arnold Harrison, and will be found on examination, to differ considerably from its less dashing sister, the original species from the Cape, now becoming a very scarce plant, as the more glowing beauties of the South American varieties, present greater attractions to the cultivator. The edges of the petals are united farther along the tube, in Superba, and the flowers open wider; the whole plant is much larger; and the colouring throughout, lighter and gayer."  

Wilfred Blunt, author of The Art of Botanical Illustration, writes, “Mrs. Edward Bury…was the artist of the impressive Selection of Hexandrian Plants (1831–34), certainly one of the most effective color-plate folios of its period…. The “Hexandrian” flowers—lilies, crinums, pancratiums and hippeastriums—are executed in fine-grained aquatint, partly printed in colour, and retouched by hand.”

In his work, Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and early nineteenth centuries (1970), Gordon Dunthorne refers to Bury prints from this folio as "Finely coloured plates of perfect technique, very decorative and "modern" in feeling, of amaryllis, crinum, pancratium and lilies. Some plates show the bulb and stalk, leaves and blossom."  

In perfect condition with pristine color and large margins. Drawn by Mrs. E. Bury, Liverpool. Engraved, printed, and colored by R. Havell, London; elephant folio size, 25 x 18.5 inches.

$5,500 this week only (list price $7,500). Offer expires 4-9-2018.

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Mrs. Edward Bury (c. 1799–1870), née Priscilla Susan Falkner, was the daughter of a well-placed family. Exotic plants were grown in the hot houses at her family’s estate, Fairfield, near Liverpool, where as a young girl, she began painting flowers. The Victorian tradition viewed women illustrating flowers as “genteel, diverting and instructive study [so] that the fair sex could find amusement….” The talented Bury’s “Hexandrian” watercolor flower “portraits”, as she called them, were of lilies, crinums, pancratiums, and hippeastrums.

Bury was encouraged in her botanical painting pursuits by a local botanist, William Rowe, and her distinguished friends, the zoologist William Swainson and William Roscoe. She also received technical expertise from the staff at the Liverpool Botanical Gardens. Unlike her contemporaries, Pierre-Joseph Redouté or Pierre-Antoine Poiteau, Bury was not trained as a botanist or artist, yet she occupies a singular position in botanical art.

Her remarkable contribution, A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae, depicts flowers with six stamens. Of elephant-size, it is the largest scale, most unusual and rarest of all nineteenth-century botanicals. Comprised of 51 aquatint engravings produced in ten parts from 1831 to 1834 by renowned London engraver, Robert Havell, Jr., these rich aquatint engravings are partly printed in color and partly hand-colored. Also the publisher of this work, Havell produced Bury’s folio at the same time that he was engraving Audubon’s plates. John James Audubon was listed among the subscribers to this splendid nineteenth-century botanical folio. Only 80 subscriptions were sold.

References: Wilfred Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, 1994, p. 248–50; Gordon Dunthorne, Flower and Fruit Prints, 1970, pages 77, 184.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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