London: William Smith, 1840. First edition. Single sheet matted in rag board. A Fine original hand-colored lithograph on paper. Quarto (20.95 x 27.30 cm, 8.25 x 10.75 inches).
An artist and visionary author, Jane Webb Loudon (1807-1858) was born at Ritwell House, near Birmingham, England into a nonliterary, non-gardening family. During the Regency Period education for young gentlewomen rarely supplied the necessary tools to provide for a career in life. Upon the death of her father, Jane Webb initially worked as a journalist reviewing horticultural exhibitions to augment her sparse income, and eventually wrote her first novel; which was published anonymously. The Mummy; A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century was a pioneering work of science fiction in which Jane insightfully predicts the creation of several agricultural improvements including references to the steam plough and the telegraph. The Mummy caught the attention of John Claudius Loudon, (1783-1843) an accomplished and noted landscape gardener and editor of horticultural books and periodicals; notably Gardener’s Magazine and The Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture. Fascinated by this extraordinary tale Loudon sought an audience with its innovative author, presuming the writer to be male. Upon meeting the author Jane, Loudon became enraptured. They married shortly thereafter and began a lifelong partnership in the production of several noteworthy horticultural volumes. The couple produced over a dozen gardening publications, yet their most significant work was the series known as The Ladies’ Flower Garden published in London from 1840-48. Comprised of four volumes of informative, nontechnical horticultural writing on Ornamental Annuals, Ornamental Perennials, Ornamental Bulbous Plants, Ornamental Greenhouse Plants the work was illustrated with exquisitely hand-colored lithographs of elegant floral bouquets. A final work in the series: British Wildflowers was produced in 1849, with hand-painted lithographs of charming wildflower bouquets after illustrations by Henry Noel Humphreys (British 1810-79), artist and naturalist. The Loudons extensive gardens at their quarter-acre home in Bayswater on the then outskirts of London provided an abundance of floral bouquets as subjects for Jane's watercolor illustrations 'drawn from nature' inspired the lovely hand-painted lithographs for The Ladies' Flower Garden books. These lithographs were created from drawings executed directly onto zinc plates, which were inked and printed by hand. Once dried the prints were hand-painted with watercolor. The work was produced by the venerable firm of Day & Haghe, Royal Lithographers to Queen Victoria.
As a predecessor to a generation of distinguished garden writers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West, Jane Webb Loudon's sensible descriptions of plant history and cultivation, as well as the proper pronunciation of plant nomenclature, were instrumental in encouraging the Victorian Gentlewoman to actively engage in gardening as a dignified and robust expression of creativity; thereby enticing one out of the drawing room and into the garden, and in doing so aided in the cultivation of a new breed of horticulturist; the female gardener or plants woman.
(DNB17030, Kramer 120-129, DeBelder 221, Blunt). Fine with original hand-coloring. Item #6596