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An original hand-colored aquatint engraving on J. Whatman wove paper by English artist Miss Smith (Active: Early 19th Century) titled "Ixia", c. 1820. Limited edition unknown, presumed small. "Turkey Mills J. Whatman 1818" watermark center right in sheet. Exquisitely matted with handmade french matting. All archival. Matted size: 19.5" x 16". Sheet size: 14.5" x 10.5". Image size: 10.5" x 8". Some toning and foxing to sheet mostly at margins associated with age. (Please see pictures). Strong colors. In overall good condition. Very rare. The genus Ixia consists of a number of cormous plants native to South Africa from the subfamily Ixioideae of the family Iridaceae. Some of them are known as the corn lily. Some distinctive traits include sword-like leaves and long wiry stems with star-shaped flowers. It usually prefers well-drained soil. The popular corn lily has specific, not very intense fragrance. It is often visited by many insects such as bees. The Ixia are also used sometimes as ornamental plants. Very little is known about Miss Smith, including her full name. It is possible that she may be the same person as another little-known botanical artist, Miss J. Smith, whose work appeared in William Sole's Menthae Britannicae, although that was published some twenty years earlier. Smith is recorded in a contemporary newspaper as "of Adwick Hall near Doncaster", and she wrote that her flowers came from the garden of a Mr. W. Crowder in Doncaster. There was a women's boarding school at Adwick Hall in the early 19th century, and Miss Smith may have been an instructor there. Combining an instruction manual "for young ladies" with a coloring book, Studies of Flowers from Nature is illustrated by full-page, full-color plates of specimen flowers shown with their leaves. The artist, by lined as "Miss Smith," offers advice on drawing and on preparing colors for painting watercolors of flowers and includes a complete second set of plates in which the flowers are drawn only in outline so that the buyers can color them in themselves. Such copybooks were popular in the early 19th century, but few have survived; it is thought that owners tended to discard them after completing their painted pages. The book was published by Ackermann of London by subscription, a common practice at the time and sold for 5 guineas as single volume; it was also obtainable in 10 monthly parts issued between 1818 and 1820. One subscriber was Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George III. Of the roughly 100 copies that were subscribed for, only a small handful are known to have survived. Studies of Flowers from Nature is valued today for the exceptionally high quality of the flower paintings.
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Located in Saint Augustine, FL
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