SMITH, Miss [J.?] ~ Studies of Flowers from Nature. Dedicated by permission to Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth. This work will consist chiefly of a a Selection of Subjects from the choicest Exotics, painted after Nature, with a correct outline of each and Instrucitons for producing a fac-Simile of the finished drawing by Miss Smith.
Hand-coloured aquatint title page, 20 hand-coloured aquatint of flowers, each in two states - coloured and uncoloured for copying. Each image is preceded by a leaf of instructions to improve the Art of Colouring, 3pp. of subscribers at the rear. Folio, good ample margined copy in full contemporary straight grain rich purple/brown morocco, sides with blind-tooled roll borders, triple gilt fillets and a central lozenge stamped in blind with a floriate cornered gilt border, spine in compartments with raised bands, each panel elaborately blind tooled with gilt borders, titled in gilt in second panel, turn-ins with triple gilt fillets, all edges gilt. Joints and edges slightly rubbed, Dahlia plate with some staining which goes through to the very edges of the remaining two plates (not affecting images). Without the errata slip. Early 19th century bookseller’s label of Smith, Elder & Co and a later one of George Gregory of Bath.
A privately printed, finely illustrated instructional copybook intended as practice for amateur watercolourists and botanical artists, usually ladies, with uncoloured duplicate plates of each handcoloured aquatint and detailed instructions on colours to use and how to colour them so they look like Miss Smith’s finished watercolours. One of the finest instruction manuals of its time, made when there was a keen interest in and fashion for botanical painting.
The work is dedicated to Princess Elizabeth who was a keen amateur artist. 92 copies sold on subscription and the list of subscribers is a clear indicator as to who would use the manual - gentlemen and primarily ladies of leisure. Interestingly the printer Ackermann ordered 10 copies.
The work can be dated from the paper which is watermarked 1817-18. We do not know anything about Miss Smith except where she lived. The flowers she illustrated apparently came from the Doncaster garden of a Mr. W. Crowder. She may have something to do with a Miss J. Smith whose work appeared in William Sole’s Menthae Britannicae but this was published 20 years earlier.