Not currently on display at the V&A

Christmas Rose

Drawing
1745 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Initially, taxonomy or the classification of plants was haphazard and inconsistent. In the 17th century there gradually developed a new system, based on the physical similarities between the reproductive features of plants. Thus illustration, which in the herbal tradition had been simply a means of distinguishing one plant from another, now took on the role of analytic tool. It was used to record the detailed physical character of the plant and show the similarity of characteristics.

Ehret presents this subject as a growing plant rather than a cut or uprooted specimen. This mode of representation really belongs to the florilegia tradition, as does the unseasonal butterfly. But his illustration also includes everything necessary for botanical analysis and identification, with flowers shown from several angles and at different stages of opening.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional Titles
  • Helleborus niger L. (generic title)
  • Winter Aconite (popular title)
  • Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb. (generic title)
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum
Brief Description
Botanical study, Christmas rose (Helleborus niger L.) and Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb.) by Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70); watercolour and bodycolour on vellum; ca 1745; London
Physical Description
Botanical study showing Christmas Rose with white flowers and to the left the yellow Winter aconite. The image is displayed as though the plants are in the ground. Above to the right is a butterfly with brown and yellow markings.
Dimensions
  • Height: 53.2cm
  • Width: 37cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • G.D. Ehret. pinxt. (Signature; date; handwriting; ink, Lower right)
  • HELLEBORUS niger, flore albo, etiam interdum valde rubente. F.B. / True Black Hellebore, or Christmas rose. (Ink, lower centre)
Gallery Label
Georg Dionysius Ehret 1708-70 Christmas Rose and Winter Aconite (Helleborus niger L. and Eranthis hyemalis (L.) Salisb.) About 1745 Ehret presents this subject as a growing plant rather than a cut or uprooted specimen. This mode of representation really belongs to the florilegia tradition, as does the unseasonal butterfly. But his illustration also includes everything necessary for botanical analysis and identification, with flowers shown from several angles and at different stages of opening. London Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum V&A: D.587-1886(2011)
Subjects depicted
Summary
Initially, taxonomy or the classification of plants was haphazard and inconsistent. In the 17th century there gradually developed a new system, based on the physical similarities between the reproductive features of plants. Thus illustration, which in the herbal tradition had been simply a means of distinguishing one plant from another, now took on the role of analytic tool. It was used to record the detailed physical character of the plant and show the similarity of characteristics.



Ehret presents this subject as a growing plant rather than a cut or uprooted specimen. This mode of representation really belongs to the florilegia tradition, as does the unseasonal butterfly. But his illustration also includes everything necessary for botanical analysis and identification, with flowers shown from several angles and at different stages of opening.
Bibliographic References
  • 'Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration' by Gill Saunders; Zwemmer in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum; 1995; no. 59, page 86 (illus.)
  • 'Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration' by Gill Saunders; KWS Publishers in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum; 2009; second edition; no. 59, page 86 (illus).
Collection
Accession Number
D.587-1886

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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