Folio Society Published Works Number 1679
Thornton, Robert - The Temple of Flora Limited Edition
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Thornton, Robert - The Temple of Flora Limited Edition (Published in by The Folio Society in 2007. Quarter-bound in Nigerian goatskin, cloth sides. 232 pages with 9 preliminary monochrome plates, 5 preliminary colour plates and 29 flower illustrations. Book size 22½ x 18¼ ins. Winner of the Best British Book in the British Book Design and Production Awards 2008. Strictly limited to 600 copies (originally to be 1980, but reduced to 600 - a letter comes with the book to say this is the case) of which this is number 321, this is the first ever full-size facsimile of the greatest English florilegium. Robert Thornton was the visionary creator of the finest of all English flower books, The Temple of Flora. Despite being neither an artist nor a professional botanist, he was fascinated by the rapid development in botanical knowledge of his time and inspired by the success of flower books in France. Thornton was convinced that Britain should be leading Europe in both the arts and the sciences, and wrote that he planned to create a botanical book which would be a National Honour, 'which in Point of Magnificence is intended to exceed all other Works of a similar Nature on the Continent'. In posterity's eyes, he succeeded, although he bankrupted himself in the process. Today the plates from this near-legendary work are some of the loveliest and most popular of all flower illustrations. Although much loved as prints and frequently reproduced in books on botanical art, there has never been a full facsimile of The Temple of Flora, presenting the plates as they were originally meant to be seen – together with Thornton's idiosyncratic and charming text. From the delicate colouring of A Group of Tulips and elegant form of The Sacred Egyptian Bean to the drama of The Night-Blowing Cereus (on which the binding design of this edition was based) and The Dragon Arum, these plates are exceptional works of art, whose value, both monetary and cultural, has steadily increased with the passage of time. )