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Original Watercolour of Poinciana Pulcherrima

EMPSON, Charles

Published by [Bath: 1830s]., 1830
From Arader Galleries - Aradernyc (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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Exceptionally fine watercolour of this red flowering Pride of Barbados after an engraving by Friedrich Humboldt, published in his "Monographie des Melastomacées" (1816-1823). (15 4/8 x 10 2/8 inches) mounted on heavier stock (20 x 14 inches), captioned by the artist "Inga ornata . S.A." Provenance: Sotheby's Monaco, Dec 12, 1984, lot 3341. Empson, a print and watercolour dealer in Bath, spent three years travelling the northern part of South America, for the most part in what is now Colombia, from 1824 to 1827. His original drawings of the exotic plants of South America, which he first encountered on that journey, introduce an artist of superb technique and achievement better known through the narratives of his travels in South America. His peregrinations took him from Cienega on the northern coast of Colombia through the central and eastern cordilleras of the Andes to Honda in the south, via the river Magdalena, and east into Venezuela. His recollections of the trip are preserved in his 'Narratives of South America', published in London in 1836. "The glorious descriptions of Humboldt had induced many persons who had no other motive beyond that of beholding Nature in all her majesty, to explore these regions so gorgeously clothed in primaeval vegetation, and so abundant in every production interesting to mankind. It was my happiness to associate with many travellers who had established themselves in the Republic before any of the European nations had acknowledged the independence of Columbia, and had shared in the vicissitudes of the revolutionary war; but they found ample compensation for all their privations in the inexhaustible variety of the new world. A field so rich, and so extensive, proved an irresistible temptation to the scientific man; the produce and commercial demands of so vast a continent were not less attractive to the merchant, while scenes of grandeur and beauty offered the most fascinating allurements to the imagination of the enthusiast." (Preface). Empson was accompanied by his friend Robert Stephenson, son of the famous railway engineer. They returned with precious objects of pre-Colombian art, including some gold artifacts which Charles later exhibited in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Unfortunately, some of their possessions were lost in a shipwreck at the entrance to New York harbor, and only three known portfolios of his South American inspired artwork are known: see also Massachusetts Historical Society Ms - Christie's New York, Dec 18, 2002, lot 35; and Jacques Levy, his sale, Sotheby's, 20th April 2012, lot 96. Unlike the botanical drawings of most of his contemporaries, Empson's sketches are not at all stylized. His Morning Glories entwine a dry twig; the tendrils of the Passion Flower reach out to find something to clutch. Like the great French botanical artist Redoute, Empson captures the play of light across shiny leaves, the color changes from a crease of a turning in a leaf. Bookseller Inventory # 72wcd119

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Original Watercolour of Poinciana ...

Publisher: [Bath: 1830s].

Publication Date: 1830

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Arader Galleries has specialized in the field of color plate books and early works on paper for over thirty years. The size and quality of our inventory is second to no other dealer. We are committed building the finest art and book collections for our clients. We would be delighted to answer any questions you may have about any of the books listed on ABE or meet you at our Galleries in New York.

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