Victoria Regia, or illustrations of the Royal Water-Lily
Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) and Walter Hood FITCH (1817-1892).
From Victoria Regia, or illustrations of the Royal Water-Lily.
4 Hand-Coloured Lithographs.
London: Bradbury & Evans for Reeve & Benham, 1851.
16 x 21 inches, 26 1/2 x 32 inches framed each.
"One of the most celebrated plants from this period was the water-lily Victoria amazonica, originally called the Victoria regia by [John] Lindley in honour of England's reigning monarch. Discovered at the beginning of the century by European explorers, it created a veritable sensation in England when the eclectic and versatile Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) managed to coax the plant to flower [in 1849] while working at Chatsworth and Chiswick as head gardener for the Duke of Devonshire. (An Oak Spring Flora p.378). In his seminal work, in addition to the history of the plant's discovery and its physical description, Hooker gives information on the best method of cultivating the plant in temperate rather than tropical climates. The plates are by Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892), and are one of Fitch's first great triumphs in the field of botanical illustration. He remained the chief (and usually sole) artist for the Botanical Magazine for forty-one years, producing over 9,000 drawings. The Duchess of Northumberland's enthusiasm for the flower was quite equal to the Duke of Devonshire's and the present work is dedicated to her by Fitch: an acknowledgment of the fact that Fitch was allowed to sketch the Syon Park example of the "vegetable wonder."