John Martyn, Historia plantarum rariorum
Nuremberg, 1752 [Sp. Coll. e 99]
John Martyn (1699-1768) was a man of varied activities – translator of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s Histoire des plantes qui naissent aux environs de Paris, apothecary, co-publisher of The Grub-Street journal, professor of botany at Cambridge, editor and translator of Virgil’s Georgics and Bucolics. He was born in London and in 1721, at the age of only 22, he founded the Botanical Society of London. However he is now best remembered as the author of the first botanical book with plates printed in colour (subsequently retouched by hand). The first edition of this Historia plantarum rariorum appeared between 1728 and 1737, but the same techniques of colour printing were used for the German edition displayed here. Most of the plates were made from drawings by Jacob van Huysum (1686-1740), youngest of a family of flower painters from Amsterdam, but a few were engraved after designs by William Houston (c.1695-1733), a Scottish ship’s surgeon, botanist and collector of plants from Central America and the West Indies.
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