Rare flower art book describing exotic plants for the first and only time

L'Héritier de Brutelle, Charles-Louis. Sertum Anglicum, seu Plantae Rariores quae in Hortis juxta Londinum, imprimis in Horto Regio Kewensi Excoluntur, ab anno 1786 ad annum 1787 observatae.

Paris, P. Fr. Didot, 1788.

Large folio. (4), 20 pp. With 35 engraved botanical plates (8 folding), 20 drawn by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, 1 each by J. P. and L. J. Redouté, 10 by James Sowerby, 2 by J. G. Bruyière, and 1 by B. Pernotin. Engraved by Fr. Hubert, Maleuvre, Juillet, J. B. Guyard, Stephane Voysard and Milsan. Contemporary half red roan (sheepskin), blue paper sides, green parchment corners. Preserved in custom-made box.


Second edition, usually called the second issue, of a flower art book by the French botanist Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle (1746-1800). In this book, L'Héritier describes 35 genera and 124 species of rare plants in Kew Gardens and the herbarium of his fellow botanist Joseph Banks, which he studied in 1786 together with Pierre Joseph Redouté. His text also refers to the 35 plates, which depict some of the flowers. L'Héritier mostly describes horticultural plants, including many exotic plants from South Africa. Most of the plates were provided by the two most gifted botanical artists of the age: the Frenchman Pierre Joseph Redouté and the Englishman James Sowerby.

The "Sertum Anglicum" was published as a token of the author's gratitude for the hospitality shown by Banks and other fellow botanists on his visit to England. Remarkably, 13 genera and 65 species of exotic plants are here described for the first time. Furthermore, no fewer than 31 of the plates are the first published illustrations of the species, and seven remain the only illustration of the species ever published. The book therefore remains an irreplaceable botanical reference work today, beyond its value as a work of botanical art of the highest quality, containing beautiful flower illustrations by two of the greatest masters of all time.

Although the imprint gives 1788 as the year of publication, Stafleu & Cowan call the present version of the "Sertum Anglicum" both a "reprint" and a "reissue", probably published as a whole after L'Héritier's death in 1800. It differs from the earlier version in the number of pages for the main text. The first version was published in five parts with the entire letterpress text in part 1. Its main text occupies 35 pages, while the main text of the present second version occupies 20 pages. But the title-page and the other preliminary leaf are apparently true reissues of the first printing, for both are dated 1788 and have the same imprint (giving the printer as Pierre-François Didot, although he died in 1795, and the same booksellers). While the imprint of the first issue suggests that it was printed and published as a whole in 1788, it was actually published in five parts between 1789 and 1792: in early January 1789 (the complete text and plates 1-2), May 1790 (plates 3-12), April 1792 (plates 13-24 & 15 bis) and late in 1792 (plates 25-34), respectively. Some types on the "1788" title-page were also out of date by 1800.

With a hand-written inscription on the first endleaf. Binding, especially the edges, slightly rubbed; the paper sides are slightly discoloured. With only a few stains and the edges of the paper slightly frayed. Spine professionally reinforced. A large paper copy of a rare work in good condition.

Dunthorne 248. Great Flower Books 65. Hunt 692. Nissen (BBI) 1189. Pritzel 5270. Stafleu/Cowan 4492.

Art.-Nr.: BN#52162 Schlagwörter: ,