Riverside Hybrids



Passiflora caerulea 1753

From The Temple of Flora by Dr. Robert J. Thornton London January 1800

"Hand-coloured and colour-printed aquatint, stipple and line engraving by Caldwell. 19 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches

[Passiflora caerulea L.] The species of passion flower depicted in this plate, a native of Brazil and Peru and known in Europe since 1699, was the first discovered that was hardy in the cooler regions of the earth and could therefore, in Thornton's time, when glasshouses were less common, be more easily grown over a larger area of the world. Its flowers are only faintly scented and last but one day, but they are produced over several months, and plants flowering first in June often continue until October. In this plate both flowers and leaves have been depicted by the painter, Philip Reinagle, with life-like accuracy and engraved by Caldwell with a masterly fidelity. The delicate stipple of the flowers and their modelling, and that of the leaves is of a standard not often reached." (Ronald King, The Temple of Flora by Robert Thornton, 1981, p. 80)

Thornton's The Temple of Flora is the greatest English colour-plate flower book. "...[Thornton] inherited a competent fortune and trained as a doctor. He appears to have had considerable success in practice and was appointed both physician to the Marylebone Dispensary and lecturer in medical botany at Guy's and St. Thomas's hospitals. But quite early in his career he embarked on his...great work. What Redouté produced under the patronage of L'Héritier, Marie Antoinette, the Empress Josephine, Charles X, and the Duchesse de Berry, Thornton set out to do alone... Numerous important artists were engaged...twenty-eight paintings of flowers commissioned from Abraham Pether, known as `Moonlight Pether,' Philip Reinagle, ...Sydenham Edwards, and Peter Henderson...The result...involved Thornton in desperate financial straits...In an attempt to extricate himself he organized the Royal Botanic Lottery, under the patronage of the Prince Regent...It is easy to raise one's eyebrows at Thornton's unworldly and injudicious approach to publishing...But he produced...one of the loveliest books in the world." (Alan Thomas, Great Books and Book Collecting, pp.142-144)

Second state of three of this plate from The Temple of Flora. "Three very definite states...First state: the main stem and the stems of the bud and the leaf in the upper centre have a pronounced shadow with hard outlines. The dark patch of shading to the left of the base of the column has a hard upper edge. The part of the leaf to the right of the fruit is in aquatint only and so is the leaf projecting to the left beyond the column. The dark shading to the right of the column above the leaf has a jagged edge and the cloud above has an indistinct edge. Second state: the shadows of the stems of the upper centre are smaller and the edges are softer. The dark patch of shading is softened. The aquatint on the leaves mentioned above is strengthened with cross-hatched lines. There are added horizontal lines on the base of the column near the fruit. Third state...aquatint on the leaves and buds; the indistinct cloud has now a white edge, and there is...line rework[sic.] on many of the leaves. The flowers are no longer all printed in colours as before." (Handasyde Buchanan, Thornton's Temple of Flora, London, 1951, p.18)''

from Donald Heald Books