A Fine Pair of Watercolours of Papaver Somniferum and Convolvulaceae (morning glory).


On paper, c. 1800. [470 x 340 & 390 x 330mm].

On paper, c. 1800. [470 x 340 & 390 x 330mm].

In 1952 Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt acquired 25 gilt-edged watercolors, approximately 30.5×23 cm, trimmed, often cut into the signature “WH Edwards Delt [delineavit], No 15 Southampton Row, Russell Sqr London.” Descriptions of the works (images not yet posted) can be found under accession 0850 on our Web site.

While some of the compositions are of single flowers, others are paired or in bouquets. Nine depict roses, and the collection contains at least two each of Auricula, Crataegus and Ranunculus.

William Henry Camden Edwards (b. Monmouthshire ca.1773, d. Bungay, Suffolk 22 August 1855) exhibited at the Royal Academy (1793–1841) and the Society of British Artists, London (1840–1844). He engraved plates in W. J. Hooker’s British Jungermanniae (1812–1816), Musci Exotici (1818–1820) and Muscologia Britannica (1818) and W. Roxburgh’s Plants of the Coast of Coromandel (1795–1820) and wrote his own Young Artist’s Guide to Flower Drawing and Painting in Watercolours (1820).

His wife exhibited fruit studies at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists in 1847. The information above, from Ray Desmond’s Dictionary of British and Irish Delectus Huntiana 43 W. H. Edwards paintings Clockwise from top left: Jonquil & French poppy [Narcissus & Papaver], HI accession 0850.02; St. Johns Wort [Hypericum], HI accession 0850.06; Polyanthus [Auricula], HI accession 0850.10; [Briar and Rose], HI accession 0850.18; Ranunculus & Anemone, HI accession 0850.21, watercolors by W. H. Edwards. Botanists and Horticulturists (London, 1994), seems to be the most complete account of Edwards’ work.

The Young Artist’s Guide…With instructions and examples, described in Bridson and White’s Plant, Animal & Anatomical Illustration in Art & Science (1990), was published in London by J. Watson and contains 11 pages and 23 plates (5 uncolored line, 4 uncolored aquatint, 7 color-printed and 7 hand-colored). Regarding Muscologia Britannica, Malcolm Beasley of the Natural History Museum, London, reports five unsigned annotated pen and ink drawings (with occasional gray wash) on paper.

These are by artists identified in the plates engraved by Edwards, who was described by Hooker and Taylor in the introduction as “an artist of high talents.” Further information about the artist is welcome for our archive. —James J. White, Curator of Art

Bulletin of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Vol. 19, No. 2 Fall 2007

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