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James Sowerby Wall Art

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James Sowerby (Born 1757) was born in the City of London. He was the son of John Sowerby, who was a carver of inscriptions, and Arabella Goodspeed. The Sowerby family contributed a lot to science to the extent that they have no equal in the history of natural history. 14 members of the family illustrated, wrote or published natural history works between about 1780 and 1954. They covered subjects such as mineralogy, botany, conchology, zoology, and palaeontology. They worked for and with most of the great names in natural history in 19th-century, and the family correspondence is an unparalleled source of bibliographical, biographical, and historical information. Sowerby studied art at the Royal Academy in London and began making studies of plants and wildflowers to include in his miniature portraits. This is how he got into contact with William Curtis who taught him how best to depict plants and their blossoms.

Curtis was a botanist and the author of Flora Londinensis. Sowerby did the original copper engravings for this publication as well as hand-colored most of the plates for a number of them. He also painted the only known view of Curtis’s Lambeth Botanic Garden. In 1790 Sowerby started the first of his own illustrated works which became known as ‘Sowerby’s Botany.’ His accurate descriptions and beautifully colored drawings made the publication a highly esteemed work which was frequently republished. It contained 2,592 hand-colored plates of British plants and was issued in 36 volumes over 23 years. Sowerby supplied illustrations for many natural history works.
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