The Temple of Flora

The Temple of Flora

Moements from Robert Joseph Thornton (1768-1837) The New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnæus and The Temple of Flora first published in 1798

Dr. Robert John Thornton’s ‘New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnæus; and The Temple of Flora, or Garden of Nature.  Published: London 1807.

The Temple of Flora is regarded by many as one of the most magnificent of all florilegia ever produced. Dr. Robert Thornton (1768-1837), physician and botanical writer, was not primarily an artist but the driving force behind this great work.

His vision: to produce ‘Picturesque Botanical Plates of the Choicest Flowers of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America’. Between 1798 and 1807, 32 coloured plates were engraved in aquatint, stipple and line from original paintings by noted British artists.  For the text he engaged the foremost poets of the time to provide poems to accompany their botanical illustrations. 

Lack of public interest spelt disaster for his project . Almost from the outset Thornton ruined himself by the lavish scale of this work and despite obtaining an Act of Parliament authorising him to organise a lottery to fund his botanical works and numerous publications, by the time of his death in 1837 his family was destitute.

Although his vision was not shared at the time, we can see from the beautiful images why it is one of our most popular set of Moements note cards and prints. 


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