American Turk's-cap lily (Lilium superbum)

Watercolour
1740s (painted)
American Turk's-cap lily (Lilium superbum) thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Ehret was one of the greatest botanical illustrators working in the 18th century. He supplied illustrations for a number of important botanical publications. He was also closely involved in publicising and promoting the binomial system of plant classification that was devised by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.

Ehret painted this plant study in the 1740s, at the height of his mature style. We do not know the precise date, but a near identical version is dated 1745. In the text Ehret notes that ‘this lily first flowered in August 1738’, in the garden of Peter Collinson. Collinson was an avid collector of new plants, and lived just outside London. Ehret often studied plants in his collection. Dr C. J. Trew reproduced a version of this picture in his book Plantae Selectae, which he published in Nuremberg between 1750 and 1773.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum
Brief Description
Watercolour by G.D. Ehret depicting Turk's-cap lily, 1740s
Physical Description
Watercolour drawing
Dimensions
  • Height: 53.2cm
  • Width: 37cm
Gallery Label
Georg Dionysius Ehret 1708-70 American Turk's-cap Lily ('Lilium superbum') 1740s The Linnaean system depended on the flower and an enumeration of the stamens and pistils. Ehret has thus chosen to show only the flower-spike, ignoring the rest of the plant. He has painted it in almost 'trompe l'oeil' detail, from every angle, in bud and in full bloom. It is thus possible to classify the lily from the illustration alone. Probably London Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum V&A: D.589-1886
Subject depicted
Summary
Ehret was one of the greatest botanical illustrators working in the 18th century. He supplied illustrations for a number of important botanical publications. He was also closely involved in publicising and promoting the binomial system of plant classification that was devised by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus.



Ehret painted this plant study in the 1740s, at the height of his mature style. We do not know the precise date, but a near identical version is dated 1745. In the text Ehret notes that ‘this lily first flowered in August 1738’, in the garden of Peter Collinson. Collinson was an avid collector of new plants, and lived just outside London. Ehret often studied plants in his collection. Dr C. J. Trew reproduced a version of this picture in his book Plantae Selectae, which he published in Nuremberg between 1750 and 1773.
Associated Object
E.916-1924 (Reproduction)
Bibliographic References
  • 'Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration'; Gill Saunders; Zwemmer in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum; 1995; no. 60; page 87
  • 'Picturing Plants: an analytical history of botanical illustration'; Gill Saunders; KWS Publishers; 2009; no. 60; page 87
Collection
Accession Number
D.589-1886

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record createdDecember 23, 2003
Record URL