BRAZILIAN FLORA. A Magnificent Album of Original Watercolours of Brazilian Flowers. 1800-1825.
Folio (22 4/8 x 18 inches). 65 superb original watercolours, including two unfinished, of flowers native to Brazil, comprising 40 drawn on the leaves of the album (22 4/8 x 17 inches) watermarked Whatman 1814, the remaining 25 on separate sheets loosely inserted, including 10 drawings ca 19 x 14 inches and 15 drawings ca 10 x 8 inches, on paper watermarked 1794 - 1809, most with contemporary Latin or French identification in ink or pencil (some spotting and browning). Contemporary diced russia (remains of gilt spine with part of label reading "Flore Bresilienne," very worn, upper cover detached).
Provenance: with the engraved armorial bookplate of Joaquim de Sousa-Leao, first Baron and Viscount of Campo Alegre (fl 1867 - 1900), owner of substantial sugar mills in Pernambuco, on the front paste-down; with Sotheby's, November 21st, 1985, lot 48
A very attractive set of drawings, most certainly predating the monumental work on the flora of Brazil by Martius and Endlicher: "Flora brasiliensis sive enumeratio plantarum in Brasilia hactenus detectarum...", published between 1840 and 1906, comprising 130 fascicles with 3811 plates.
The only clue as to the identity of the artist is a pencilled signature "Schonfeld" on drawing number 35. A note loosely inserted by a descendant of Sousa-Leao records a Dutch provenance for the volume and suggests that the drawings were made by a Dutch artist under the auspices of Baron van Mollerus and J. Crommelin, Dutch diplomats at the Brazilian court from 1816 to 1821.
The species illustrated include heliconia, tea, coffee, mimosa, passiflora, caladina, bignonia, bromelia, begonia, heliotrope, ru-ellia, impomea, commelina, hemerocallis, hamellia, cassia, amaryllus, hibiscus, globba, canna, pontederia, mollia, wittelsbachia, alstromeria, epidendrum, iris, sobelia, cactus, bougainvillier, etc.