Joseph Banks 'Florilegium Metrosideros Excelsa (Myrtaceae) - Plate 445'

$1,200.00 Regular price
Unit price

To behold a print from Florilegium, is to behold history. Being about more than flora, the limited series is a rare portal between early and contemporary Australia. 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. 

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 specimens of the earth. 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 copper plates by dear friend and esteemed engraver Daniel MacKenzie. This was an expensive and labour intensive activity. Yet somehow, these exquisite copper plates 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 ‘à la poupée’, all 734 studies were printed in editions of 100, and later hand-coloured in fine detail. The director of the Natural Museum doubts whether they will ever reprint Florilegium.

Art & Collectors is pleased to be able to offer you a selection of these breathtakingly detailed engravings - printed from the original copper plates from the 1770s. We encourage both burgeoning and established collectors to behold this iridescent series. Luminous, exquisite and sure to be treasured.

Joseph BANKS (1743 - 1820)
'Florilegium Metrosideros Excelsa (Myrtaceae) - Plate 445' 1770
colour engraving and etching (à la poupée) with hand-colouring
Edition of 100
Image Size: 46 x 30 cm
Dimensions: 74 x 57 cm
Signed: Embossed lower right, edition and numbered in pencil

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Registration Number2011-0003-1/50;
the collection of Eton College FDA-E.2916:21/25-2016 and
the collection of Royal Museum Grenwich, ID no ZBA6369

This print is also illustrated as Plate 56 on page 129 of Joseph Banks Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cooks First Voyage, published by Thames & Hudson Ltd

Condition: Excellent

(c) The Artist or Assignee