Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Temple of Flora: Persian cyclamen

This picture from The Temple of Flora shows the Persian cyclamen, from which the cyclamen sold by florists and supermarkets descends. The engraving was by William Elmes after a painting by Abraham Pether. Compare to Ferdinand Bauer's view of the cyclamen and to Besler's.

A few facts about The Temple of Flora

A few facts about Abraham Pether (1756-1812)
1. He specialized in landscape painting and thus would have been an especially useful source for Thornton's project, which sought to represent flowers in landscape.
2. Because he liked to paint moonlit scenes (see this slide show), some called him "Moonlight" Pether.
3. He exhibited at the Royal Academy.
4. His interest in scientific subjects led him to make microscopes and telescopes for his own use.

A few facts interesting bits about cyclamen
1. The corms from which the plant grows can last up to sixty years or more. Bishop's Close near Portland, Oregon has some impressive colonies.
2. Gerard says that cyclamen, ground up and made into "little flat cakes... is reputed to be a good amorous medicine to make one love, if it be inwardly taken".
3. But Gerard also believed that stepping over the plants could cause a pregnant woman to miscarry.
4. When time for delivery drew near, a woman might wear a corm to help speed along the cause.
5. Modern herbals have referred to cyclamen as a "self esteem builder".

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