Bugle Ajuga Reptans Flower - Original 1895 watercolour painting




An original 1895 watercolour painting, Bugle Ajuga Reptans Flower.

A delicate and keenly observed botanical watercolour. The painting is inscribed with its Common and Latin name below in a decorative script, an aesthetic addition to the overall composition as well as evidence of the burgeoning fashion for botanical classification in the 19th century.

Unsigned. Inscribed lower centre: "Bugle. Ajuga Reptans". Inscribed and dated verso: "Stott Park, May 27th 1895".
Faint foxing as shown. There is a small crease across the lower left corner of the paper.
23.4cm x 14.9cm.
Unframed.

This forms part of a collection of beautiful botanical watercolours by a single hand dating from the 1890s, depicting 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 rather than copying from prints or a book. The specificity of flower, leaf and stem is beautifully observed and the location of the flower and specific date (e.g. June 25th 1895) is inscribed on the verso of each painting. This immediacy gives the paintings added charm as the product of the artist’s observations and travels – the artist having encountered the plant in its native location and identified it either on the spot or subsequently.

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.

Botanical illustration dates from as far back as four thousand years ago, when the agricultural civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt produced plant drawings. The practice continued in ancient Greece in connection with herbal medicine. It was only in the 18th and 19th centuries, however, that botanical illustration became 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 © 2016 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JE-883


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