Tuesday, March 29, 2011

James Sowerby: Lady's Slipper Orchid

This colored engraving of a lady's slipper orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, appeared in James Sowerby's English Botany, 1790.

A few facts about James Sowerby

1. Sowerby was born in London on March 21, 1757 and lived until April 25, 1822.
2. He studied at the Royal Academy.
3. Sowerby developed a theory of color, which he dedicated to "the great Isaac Newton". Two of the main purposes of the theory were to provide distinctions between colors and to emphasize the difference between brightness and darkness. More about Sowerby's color theory.
4. In addition to botanical art, Sowerby was also an illustrator of minerals, shells, and fossils.
5. In 1790 he began work on English Botany, a massive undertaking of 36 volumes that contained 2592 drawings, of which this one is a part.

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