TREASURES OF BOTANICAL PAINTING: The Kew Diamond Jubilee Collection

Celebrating the 60-year Reign
of Her Majesty The Queen

The Kew Diamond Jubilee Collection

Only available at www.florilegia.info

TREASURES OF BOTANICAL PAINTING:
The Kew Diamond Jubilee Collection

Celebrating the 60-year Reign of Her Majesty The Queen

Click to view the next painting A set of fine art prints to commemorate each decade of Her Majesty's reign, specially selected from the works of seven pioneering master botanical painters in the collections of the renowned Library of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Gardenia augusta (cape jasmine), Georg Dionysius Ehret, 1760
60th Anniversary; Gardenia augusta (cape jasmine), gouache on vellum, Georg Dionysius Ehret, 1760
60th Anniversary; Gardenia augusta (cape jasmine), gouache on vellum, Georg Dionysius Ehret, 1760
Born Heidelberg, Germany 30 January 1708 , died London 9 September 1770

Ehret was the son of a gardener, who after his father's early death was obliged to work as a gardener himself, first near Darmstadt, and then at Karlsruhe, the garden of the Margrave of Baden-Durlach. He was artistically talented from a young age, but it was not until he left Karlsruhe in 1728, and went to Regensburg, where he was employed by an apothecary, that he was able to concentrate on painting full time. Ehret then worked for a banker, Loeschenkohl, recording the plants in his garden, and hand-colouring engravings, and was also introduced to Johann Ambrosius Beurer, an apprentice apothecary and keen botanist, who was to become a lifelong friend and admirer of his work.

Johann Beurer was a cousin of Dr Jacob Trew (1695-1769) of Nurnberq, and through Beurer, Trew commissioned Ehret to paint exotic plants for himself. Trew also helped Ehret to travel around Europe, meeting many influential botanists and gardeners. Ehret spent much of 1734-5 in France, mostly based at the Jardin des Plantes, where he received further instruction and encouragement, this time from Bernard de Jussieu, the demonstrateur there, who also arranged for him to receive letters of recommendation for his first visit to England.

His first visit to London lasted only a year, although he managed to get to know both Sir Hans Sloane and Philip Miller in that time, and he soon headed off to Amsterdam, where he met George Clifford, and his young Swedish physician and garden manager, Linnaeus, who was to become another lifelong friend. Ehret supplied 20 plates for Linnaeus' sumptuously printed Hortus Cliffortianus, an account of the rare plants in Clifford's garden, published in 1738, and also drew and engraved a table, showing Linnaeus' system of plant taxonomy, which was later published by Linnaeus in his Genera Plantarum (1737). In 1736 Ehret returned to England, and worked at illustrating both botanical and zoological books, often at the Chelsea Physic Garden, where Philip Miller was curator. He married Miller's sister-in-law, and from then on made his home in England, working for many rich patrons including the Reverend Stephen Hales and the Earl of Bute, advisors to Princess Augusta at Kew. In 1750 Ehret took up the position of gardener/curator at Oxford Botanic Garden, a position offered to him by Humphrey Sibthorp, the Sherardian Professor of Botany; the two men soon fell out, and Ehret resigned after only a year, though he stayed on in Oxford until 1755. As a teacher he was highly successful, although he was forced to give up almost all his work in the autumn of 1768 as his eyesight was failing, and he died two years later leaving behind a large body of drawings (over 3000 are still extant) in addition to the engraved plates in various publications.

Rix p. 244, in Treasures of Botanical Art, RBG, Kew : Richmond, 2008