Aug 19, 2014

The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature: A Group of Auriculas

The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature: A Group of Auriculas


Robert John Thornton

(British, 1768–1837)

Aquatint, stipple, and etching with watercolor added by hand

Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 1949.415



The greatest English botanical publication of the early 19th century was Dr. Robert John Thornton’s Temple of Flora. Although Thornton studied medicine, his passion was botany and he soon embarked upon a major publishing venture that brought him both fame and financial ruin. The work, New Illustrations of the Sexual System of Linnaeus, was the most sumptuous botanical publication ever produced. The third section, the famous Temple of Flora, has 28 flower portraits set not against a plain conventional background but in the full richness of their natural setting. Unfortunately the day of the great florilegia had passed and Thornton died in poverty in 1837.

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