Dr. Robert J.Thornton

Size: 12 x 14.5 inches - Original Hand Colored Mezzotint, Aquatint Stipple Engravings
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Temple of Flora
The White Lily
Date: 1799-1812
Price: On Request
Print Code: Bothorn001

These beautiful mezzotint, aquatint stipple engravings have been selected from a British work entitled Temple of Flora, published in London between 1799 and 1812 under the supervision of Robert J. Thornton.

Thornton's
Temple of Flora is the greatest English colour-plate flower book. "...Thornton] inherited a competent fortune and trained as a doctor. He appears to have had considerable success in practice and was appointed both physician to the Marylebone Dispensary and lecturer in medical botany at Guy's and St. Thomas's hospitals. But quite early in his career he embarked on his...great work. What Redouté produced under the patronage of L'Héritier, Marie Antoinette, the Empress Josephine, Charles X and the Duchesse de Berry, Thornton set out to do alone... Numerous important artists were engaged.. twenty-eight paintings of flowers commissioned from Abraham Pether, known as `Moonlight Pether', Philip Reinagle, ... Sydenham Edwards, and Peter Henderson... The result... involved Thornton in desperate financial straits... In an attempt to extricate himself he organized the Royal Botanic Lottery, under the patronage of the Prince Regent... it is easy to raise one's eyebrows at Thornton's unworldly and injudicious approach to publishing... But he produced... one of the loveliest books in the world"

(Alan Thomas
Great Books and Book Collecting, pp.142-144).
Robert John Thornton (1768 – 1837) was an English physician and botanical writer, noted for "A New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus Von Linnæus" (1797-1807) and "The British Flora" of 1812.
He was the son of Bonnell Thornton and studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. Inspired by Thomas Martyn's lectures on botany and the work of Linnaeus he switched from the church to medicine. He worked at Guy's Hospital in London, where he later lectured in medical botany. After spending some time abroad, he settled and practised in London. Robert inherited the family fortune after the death of both his brother and mother.
Thornton died in destitution.
The most ambitious part of the
"New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnæus" was Part III, the "Temple of Flora" (1799-1807). The first plates were engraved by Thomas Medland in May 1798 from paintings by Philip Reinagle. Between 1798 and 1807 they produced a total of thirty-three coloured plates, engraved in aquatint, stipple and line. When he planned the project, Thornton had decided to publish seventy folio-size plates. Lack of interest from the general public spelled disaster for the scheme, and the holding of a lottery could not save it from financial ruin, neither did a page in the work dedicated to the spouse of George III, Queen Charlotte, patroness of botany and the fine arts.
The standard author abbreviation Thornton is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name. (cit.Wikipedia)