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Album of watercolours of flowers, fruit and silkworms.

Stock Code 108333

Circa 1800.

Original price £150,000.00 - Original price £150,000.00
Original price £0.00
£150,000.00 - £150,000.00
Current price £150,000.00
From the collection of the 5th Duke of Marlborough. A sumptuous collection of mounted watercolours depicting Chinese silkworm cultivation, birds (including parrots), Asian fruits and multiple species of flowers; the work of exceptionally fine draughtsmanship from a Chinese school. Stylistic variety suggests a number of hands. The Chinese characters on the painting of silkworms read Quan Yuan Hao Jian Bo, meaning a shop (the first three characters) that sells silk foil (the last two characters). The spines of two volumes are labelled 'Flowers', and the third is labelled 'Silk Worms, Fruits &c'.

From the library of George Spencer-Churchill, fifth Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840). The armorial design on the covers exhibit the coronet of a marquess indicating that the albums were bound whilst the Duke was Marquess of Blanford. He had a famed library at Whiteknights Park, near Reading, which was sold in 1819 due to financial difficulties exacerbated by his extravagant lifestyle. At Whiteknights the Duke had established the gardens as some of the most renowned in England at the time, richly described by Barbara Hofland in A Descriptive Account of the Mansion and Gardens of White-Knights, 1819. They featured a folly of a ruined Gothic chapel, exotic botanicals imported from China and India and a Chinese temple. He was a passionate botanist, and much of his library reflected this love for natural history, this rare collection of watercolours being no exception. Lord Macartney's Embassy to China in 1793, saw the opening up of the Imperial lands to the West, so it is likely that these drawings were produced in the last decade of the eighteenth or the first decade of the nineteenth century.

John William Fordham Johnson (1866-1938) was a British-born Canadian businessman, who became Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in 1931.

3 vols, folio (50.9 x 37.4 cm); 244 mounted watercolours of flowers, fruit, birds and silkworms on Chinese paper, comprising vol.1: 82 drawings of flowers, vol.2: 82 drawings of flowers, vol.3: 8 drawings of silkworms, 7 of parrots, 59 of fruit/flowers, 6 of junks, nineteenth-century russia gilt, gilt armorial of George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (later 5th Duke of Marlborough), light foxing to a few plates, one volume rebacked retaining original spine, one volume with light water stain to upper cover, lightly scratched, some loss of leather to spine.


Provenance: George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (armorial binding); Whiteknights Library sale, Part I, 7 June 1819, lot 3596, for £140; Fordham Johnson (bookplate).<br />


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Album of watercolours of flowers, fruit and silkworms.


Stock code: 108333



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