Blackwell, Elizabeth “Rye” Plate 424
Blackwell, Elizabeth “Rye” Plate 424
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Blackwell, Elizabeth “Rye” Plate 424

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Elizabeth Blackwell. “Rye” Pl. 424 From A Curious Herbal.

London, 1737-1739.  Folio.  Engravings with original hand-coloring.  

A group of vivacious fruit and flower prints by Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the most famous early eighteenth-century botanical illustrators.  Mrs. Blackwell lived a memorable life, having produced her charming Herbal (1737-9) to get her decidedly unpredictable husband out of debtor’s prison.  As the story goes:  “...she took a lodging near the Chelsea Physic Garden and set about making the drawings and engravings which have made her famous.  From his prison cell Alexander assisted with the text; and so successful was their joint venture that two years later he was released.”  (Wilfrid Blunt, Art of Botanical Illustration, p. 136)  Unfortunately the story does not end here because Mr. Blackwell was subsequently arrested for treason in Sweden and executed.  These appealing prints live on to remind us of  Blackwell’s remarkable story, as well as existing in their own right as an important part of the herbal tradition being the first English botanical series and the first to be hand colored.  They were later reissued by the well-known botanical scholar Christoph Jakob Trew from 1747 to 1773 in Germany.  All in all, a charming and fascinating series of botanical prints.

Click the links below to view others from this series:

260.  “Water-Cress”

261.  “Bastard Acorus”   

266.  “Wild Rocket” [Arugula]

277.  “Gooseberry”

293.  “Hazel-nut” 

294.  “Lavender”

298.  “Camomile” 

306.  “French Sorrel”

314.  “Oak of Jerusalem”   

319.  “Sweet Marjoram”

323.  “Male Fearn”

324.  “Osmond-royal” 

325.  “Female Fearn, or Brakes” 

332.  “Asparagus” 

337.  “Coffee”

343.  “White Coral”

349.  “The Orange-Tree”

350.  “Lignum Vitæ of Jamaica/Lignum Vitæ of Brasil”

351.  “Green Tea” 

355.  “Jamaica Pepper”

356.  “Sr. Hans Sloan’s long Pepper/Long Pepper of the Shops”

358.  “The Dragon-Tree”  (Yucca draconis)

360.  “The Scythian Lamb”

361.  “The Citron-Tree”

370.  “English Maiden-Hair”

374.  “Anise”

376.  “Spotted Lungwort”

377.  [Egyptian] “Acacia”

378.  “Endive”

379.  “Parsnep  [sic]”  (Parsnip)

382.  “Macedonian Parsley”

385.  “The greater & lesser Cardamoms & Grains of Paradyce”

387.  “Indian Nut”  (Nutmeg)

389.  “The India Berry Tree”

390.  “Pellitory of Spain”

395.  “The Nux vomica of the Shops”

396.  “Turmerick”

397.  “Turbith”

398.  “The Sebesten Plumb”

402.  “Zerumbet” 

404.  “Jallap”

407.  "Mithridate-Mustard"

408.  “Alexanders” 

415.  “Horse-radish”

418.  “Mother of Thyme” 

419.  “Savory”

421.  “The Leek” 

422.  “Oats” 

423.  “Barley”

433.  “China Root”

439.  “Ox-Eye” 

446.  “Mustard” 

452.  “Lesser Centory” 

473.  “Elecampane”

482.  “Black Poppy”

487.  “The Oak”