To behold a print from Florilegium, is to behold history.
In 1768 the Voyage of The H.M.S. Endeavour set sail across the Pacific. Aboard were a crew of ninety-four men, including Captain Cook and his botanist Joseph Banks. Their mission was scientific - to discover and record earth and its specimens. In 1770, the crew encountered the salt-stained, thriving terrain of coastal Australia. Here, Banks made history - collecting over 30,000 plant specimens and producing over 700 watercolour drawings. When he returned to England, Banks had the watercolours engraved onto copperplates by dear friend and esteemed engraver Daniel MacKenzie. This was an expensive and labour intensive activity. Yet somehow, these exquisite copperplates were never printed, rather they languished in the collection of the British Museum of Natural History. This failure to publish had long been regarded as one of the tragedies of science.
That was until two-hundred years later.
In 1980, the British Museum of Natural History brought Banks back to life. Using his original eighteenth century copper plates and a technique called ‘A la poupee’, all 734 plates were hand coloured and then printed in editions of 100.
Angela Tandori Fine Art is pleased to be able to offer you a selection of these breathtakingly detailed engravings - printed from the original copperplates from the 1770s.
Banks’ Florilegium is about more than flora. Stemming from a voyage marred by death, destruction and disease, these works are somehow wondrous. Effervescent and elegant, Florilegium is an encounter with history, art and the natural world.
The director of the Natural Museum doubts whether they will ever reprint Florilegium. Instead, the limited series is a rare portal between early and contemporary Australia. We encourage both burgeoning and established collectors to behold this luminous series in person. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment.
[The 'a la poupee' printing technique: applying the colour directly to the plate's surface.]