Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (printed and published)

  • Date:

    1777-1798 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sansom, Franciscus (engraver)
    Curtis, William (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving, coloured by hand

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf DP3

John Ruskin singled out this plate for special praise in his work Prosepina: Studies of Wayside Flowers (1888). William Curtis's Flora Londinensis was a field guide to the wild flowers growing within ten miles of London and a personal passion of his. The book was a commercial failure, but the plates were remarkable for their hand-colouring. However, one subscriber to the book, Sir Thomas Frankland, wrote to Curtis criticising the opaque colouring because it often obscured the botanical detail. This plate has been coloured except for a single large leaf at the back. Had colour been applied to this leaf then the flower-heads in front would have been less easy to see.

Curtis was a botanist who worked at the Chelsea Physic Garden and then established the London Botanic Garden at Lambeth. He later found commercial success with the Botanical Magazine from 1787, for which Francis Sansom became the principle engraver.

Physical description

Plant complete with roots, with large green webbed leaves and small purple flower heads. The large leaf at the back is in outline only, while the rest has been hand-coloured

Place of Origin

London (printed and published)


1777-1798 (printed and published)


Sansom, Franciscus (engraver)
Curtis, William (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving, coloured by hand

Marks and inscriptions

Lettered 'Sansom sculpt' and 'Tussilago Petasites'
Lower centre

Sansom sculp
Lower right

Upper right


Height: 45.9 cm Cut to (irregular), Width: 27 cm Cut to (irregular), Height: 44.6 cm platemark, Width: 26 cm platemark

Descriptive line

Botanical illustration by F. Sansom, 'Tussilago Petasites [Butterbur], plate 134 from William Curtis's Flora Londinensis, hand-coloured engraving London, 1777-98

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

pl. 134
Curtis, William. Flora Londinensis. London, 1777-1798.
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1996





Subjects depicted



Illustration; Printed pages & sheets; Gardens & Gardening; Science


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.