St John's Wort Flower (Hypericum Quadrangulum) - 1901 watercolour painting


An original 1901 watercolour painting, St John's Wort Flower (Hypericum Quadrangulum).

A delicate and observant watercolour painting of the yellow St John's Wort flower with a square stalk. 

Unsigned. Inscribed lower centre: 'Square-stalked St. John's Wort - Hypericum Quadrangulum'. Inscribed and dated verso: 'Stott Park, July 15, 1901'.
Minor foxing and light age toning as shown.
23.7cm x 14.9cm.

These beautiful botanical watercolours by a single hand date from the 1890s and depict a great variety of English wildflower species. Plants include the commonly recognisable wild garlic, foxglove, narcissus and thistle, as well as the more unusual hemp agrimony, rest harrow, star of Bethlehem and sea pink.

It appears that the artist has documented the wildflowers first hand: the specificity of flower, leaf and stem is meticulously observed and the location of the flower and specific date is inscribed on the verso of each painting. This immediacy gives the paintings added charm as the product of the artist’s direct observations and travels.

The locations are centred around Cumbria, with flowers from Stott Park, Eskdale, Graythwaite (Lake District), Staveley, Finsthwaite, Walney Island, Roudsea Wood, Bigland Hill, Windemere, and Delamere Forest. There are also species from Kent and Pembrokeshire, Wales. Some of the paintings are additionally inscribed on the verso “Roadside”, “Woods” or “Stream”, narrowing the location to a specific site. The uniformity of style, scale and colouration across the various locations suggests that possibly the pictures were sketched in graphite in situ then filled out in watercolour at a later time.

The collection represents the burgeoning Victorian fashion for botanical classification. Botanical illustration had since the 18th century become an art in its own right, playing an important role in world exploration. European travellers were returning from afar with plant and seed samples, which were cultivated in landowners’ gardens. Botanical artists were often commissioned to catalogue their collections, and botanical classification was becoming an increasingly sophisticated science.

Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JH-484

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