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Watercolor "MAGNOLIA altissima..."

ca. 1737
Origin: England, probably London
Framed H: 25"; W: 18 1/2"
Pencil, watercolor and body color on vellum
Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. Frank E. Roberts and The Odyssey Foundation
Acc. No. 1991-581,A&B
Painting of a magnolia, pencil, watercolor and body color on vellum.
Label:Ehret was the most talented and important botanical artist of the 18th century. His dedication to rendering accurately all features of the plant, combined with his artistic genius, prompted wealthy gardeners, book publishers, and even Carl Linnaeus to seek his services.

Ehret’s drawings of magnolias have special significance to his career as well as to American botany. Ehret’s first contribution to an English botanical book was the “Magnolia grandiflora” in Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. Of all the American trees, magnolia varieties were among the most highly sought after by English gentry for their gardens due to their rarity in England. In his letters to John Custis of Williamsburg, Peter Collinson of London repeatedly requested magnolia seedlings for himself and others. Both Catesby and Ehret made a number of drawings of the magnolia tree growing in the London garden of Sir Charles Wager, a close friend of Collinson. This tree undoubtedly was sent from the American South, perhaps by Catesby through Collinson.
Inscription(s):Signed and inscribed "MAGNOLIA altissima, Laurocerasi folio flore ingenti candido. Catesb./G.D. Ehret. pinxt."