Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Paintings, Room 88a, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries

Sopewort or Bruisewort

Print
1737 (published)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Who was Elizabeth Blackwell? (about 1700 –1758)
Born in England, made prints in England
Printmaking activity: 1737–1739
Elizabeth Blackwell was the author and artist of A Curious Herbal, which contained 500 prints that she designed, etched and hand-coloured herself. She was the first woman in Britain to produce an herbal. However, Blackwell’s etchings were so successful that they were soon pirated by other printmakers. In 1740, she took these imitators to court and won her case and thus she played a formative role in early visual copyright history.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Additional titleA Curious Herbal (published title)
Materials and techniques
Etching
Brief description
Print by Elizabeth Blackwell 'Sopewort [Saponasa officinalis]', plate 113 from 'A Curious Herbal', etching, London, 1737
Physical description
An etching depicting two soapwort plants, one of which is flowering. There is a numbered key, at the bottom of the image, identifying parts of the plant.
Dimensions
  • Size of sheet height: 40cm
  • Size of sheet width: 25.6cm
  • Size of plate height: 33cm
  • Size of plate width: 19.8cm
Dimensions taken from Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1996
Marks and inscriptions
Lettered 'Sopewart or Bruisewort/Saponaria-vulgaris' and 'Elizabeth Blackwell delin. sculp. et Pinx'.
Gallery label
Though Blackwell had her 500 etchings bound into a book, she also issued them as individual prints from 1737 to 1739. This provided her with a steady income, which may have allowed her to pay for her husband’s release from debtor’s prison. These black and white prints cost one shilling each, which was half the price of a coloured impression.(2022)
Subject depicted
Summary
Who was Elizabeth Blackwell? (about 1700 –1758)

Born in England, made prints in England

Printmaking activity: 1737–1739

Elizabeth Blackwell was the author and artist of A Curious Herbal, which contained 500 prints that she designed, etched and hand-coloured herself. She was the first woman in Britain to produce an herbal. However, Blackwell’s etchings were so successful that they were soon pirated by other printmakers. In 1740, she took these imitators to court and won her case and thus she played a formative role in early visual copyright history.
Bibliographic references
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1996
  • Blackwell, Elizabeth. A Curious Herbal. London, 1737.pl. 113
Collection
Accession number
E.453-1996

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Record createdApril 20, 2009
Record URL
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