View full screen - View 1 of Lot 9. Bury, Priscilla Susan (Falkner) | A splendid and rare botanical work by a woman artist, with distinguished provenance.

Bury, Priscilla Susan (Falkner) | A splendid and rare botanical work by a woman artist, with distinguished provenance

Bury, Priscilla Susan (Falkner) | A splendid and rare botanical work by a woman artist, with distinguished provenance

Bury, Priscilla Susan (Falkner) | A splendid and rare botanical work by a woman artist, with distinguished provenance

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Bury, Priscilla Susan (Falkner)

A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliaceae. London: Printed and published by Robert Havell Jr., 1831–1834

Folio (640 x 485 mm). 51 very fine aquatint plated by Havell after Mrs. Bury, printed in colors and superbly finished by hand, engraved title-page, list of subscribers; text leaf 3 worn with loss and repair in lower fore-edge corner, very occasional and minor marginal spotting. Contemporary half green russia over marbled boards, spine gilt-lettered, gray-coated endpapers; extremities rubbed, minor repair to joints, inner hinges reinforced.

First and only edition of one of the and scarcest and "certainly one of the most effective colour-plate folios of its period" (Blunt). Devoted to hexandrian, or six-stamened, plants, Bury's work was initially conceived as a companion to William Roscoe's Monandrian Plants. The subscriber's list comprises only seventy-nine names, including that of John James Audubon, for whom Havell was concurrently printing The Birds of America. (Other prominent subscribers included the Earl of Derby, Baron Stanley, Lord Viscount Kingsborough, and General Banastre Tarleton.) Pritzel, writing just forty years after publication, confirms that the number of copies of of Hexandrian Plants must have been very small—"Opus splendidissimum, paucis impressum exemplaribus prodiit"—and notes that the subscription price was very high: ten guineas for ten parts.

An observant amateur botanist and highly skilled botanical artist, Priscilla Susan Falkner (1799–1872) was the daughter of a wealthy Liverpool merchant who remembered being "raised in the greenhouses of her family home,” Fairfield. Encouraged by the botanist William Roscoe and the zoologist William Swainson, Falkner planned on having her drawings lithographed by Charles Joseph Hullmandel and published with text by Swainson (the text as published is uncredited). However, after her marriage in 1830 to Edward Bury, a railroad engineer and Fellow of the Royal Society, publication was entrusted to Havell. 

This was a fortunate adjustment, as Tomasi acknowledges that Havell "managed to translate the artist's fine watercolours into aquatints of even more striking beauty," resulting in "one of the most splendid botanical works to be published in England in the nineteenth century." Dunthorne had earlier termed the aquatints in Bury's "Finely coloured plates of perfect technique, very decorative and 'modern' in feeling, of amaryllis, crinium, pancratium and lilies."


Dunthorne 71; Great Flower Books (1990) 85; Nissen BBI 306; Pritzel 1404; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 937; Tomasi, Oak Spring Flora 86


J. Simcoe, bookseller of Chester, with his ticket — Robert de Belder (Sotheby's London, 27 April 1987, lot 53) — Peter Jay Sharp (Sotheby’s New York, 13 January 1994, lot 18)

Condition as described in catalogue entry.

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