BEAUTIFUL BOTANICAL WATERCOLOURS

156 watercolours of flowers, plants, and fruits. 

[Holland, c. 1760-80.] 

Two vols, folio (350 x 248 mm), comprising 156 unsigned original watercolour plates (77 in vol. I, 79 in vol. II), each image within double-ruled frame with neatly written caption in French above (a few without captions), a blank leaf facing each plate; on thick Dutch paper with Strasburg lily watermarks of C. & I. Honig, I. Villedary, VDL, and LVG (see Churchill 405-408 and 411, dated 1730s–60s); very occasional light marks and minor spotting; very well preserved in contemporary French red morocco, borders triple-filleted in gilt, spines richly gilt in compartments with gilt green morocco lettering- and numbering-pieces, board-edges and turn-ins roll-tooled in gilt, edges gilt, marbled endpapers; very neat repairs to endcaps and corners, a few very light marks to covers; gilt arms of Jérôme-Frédéric Bignon to covers (Olivier pl. 872), his autograph signature to front free endpapers, a few brief ink notes facing some of the plates likely by Bignon, later blue ink stamp with Bignon arms to 6 of the plates; gilt morocco book label of Laurent Meeûs, with motto ‘Hic liber est meus’, to front pastedown of vol. I, and armorial bookplate of Carleton R. Richmond to front pastedown of both volumes.

£110000

Approximately:
US $122650€125092

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156 watercolours of flowers, plants, and fruits. 

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A truly stunning collection of over 150 original eighteenth-century botanical watercolours, attributed to the noted Dutch botanical artist Pieter van Loo (1731–1784). 

Born at Haarlem in the Netherlands, Loo spent most of his life in his native city where he was registered with the Painters Guild as a ‘painter of flowers’. He is perhaps best known for his watercolours of hyacinths, a collection of which – entitled ‘Choix de Jacintes’ and comprising thirteen images by Loo and Cornelis van Noorde painted between 1765 and 1769 – is preserved at the Oak Spring Garden Library in Virginia. 

The vibrantly coloured and beautifully executed images here run in more or less alphabetical order from ‘l’Asther à fleur blanche’ to ‘la Gimauve’ in volume 1, and from ‘Hépatique’ to ‘Verveine’ in volume 2, each set neatly within a ruled frame, through which they occasionally burst – as in the case of ‘Chelidoine de l’Amerique’ for example – with considerable exuberance. 

Of particular note in the first volume are the artist’s depictions of anemone, cornflower, Gros Blanquet pear, sunflower, cyclamen, cotton, sugarcane, honeysuckle, pomegranate, and various geraniums. The second volume includes especially beautiful renderings of hibiscus, jasmines, irises, mallow leaves, an orange branch, roses, rhubarb, euphorbia, and tomatoes. 

Provenance:

1.  From the library of Jérôme-Frédéric Bignon (1747–1784), who succeeded his father as royal librarian to Louis XV in 1770. Bignon was clearly interested in horticulture, adding an orangery to the château du Plessis-Piquet which he purchased in 1776. Sold at the Bignon sale of 8 January 1849, lot 547 (‘Recueil de 156 planches représentant les principales plantes … dessinées et peintes avec le plus grand soin sur papier fort’). 

2.  Late nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century collector’s mark ‘GL’ (not in Lugt) to verso of front free endpapers. 

3.  Baron Laurent Meeûs (1872–1950), Belgian industrialist, bibliophile, and collector of Old Master Paintings, sometime President of the Friends of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, with his gilt morocco booklabel to the upper pastedown of the first volume. 

4.  Carleton Rubira Richmond (1887–1975), the Bostonian businessman, collector, and President of the American Antiquarian Society, with his armorial bookplate to the upper pastedowns. 

5.  Sotheby’s, 30 October 1981, lot 74.