Rare First Edition, beautifully bound, with the fine decorative plates very clean. They depict a mixture of indigenous, naturalised and introduced plants, chosen principally for their eye-catching beauty. In the preface Berthe Hoola van Nooten (1840-1885) states that she produced this book in order to clear a debt incurred through family misfortune, and ‘provide by labour the wants of a numerous family’.
Berthe Hoola van Nooten (1840-1885 produced the present work as a heroic response to circumstances which left her on Java, a widow in her early twenties with a family to support and little money, certainly not enough to pay for her family’s passage home to Belgium. ‘Aware of the vogue in Europe for exotic flora, she decided to take advantage of her enforced exile and put to use the skill at flower painting that she had no doubt acquired as a girl. Thus she prepared forty magnificent plates for Fleurs, fruits et feuillages choisis de l’Ile de Java. [van Nooten] was clearly a more than competent artist, for the splendid tropical plants, with their lush foliage, vividly coloured flowers and exotic fruit, have been depicted with great skill. She managed to accentuate the splendour of each species by adopting a style that combined great precision and clarity with a touch of neo-Baroque exuberance, revelling in the rich forms and colours of the tropics. The reader’s eye is immediately captured by the dark leaves, shown furled or crumpled or partly nibbled away by insects, the delicately rendered details of the follicles and seeds, and the heavy clusters of flowers that cascade down the page. The excellent reproduction of the artist’s drawings in the form of chromolithographs lends an added tactility to these striking images’ ( Oak Spring Flora ).
The work consists of a lithographed dedication (in rhyme) to the Queen of the Netherlands. This is followed by a preface in which the author hints at the tragic personal circumstances which led her to seek a publisher for the work, and the forty plates, each of which is accompanied by detailed text in French and English giving a description as well as occasional information on the plants’ culinary, medical, religious and other uses.
The plates depict a mixture of indigenous, naturalised and introduced plants and include shrubs, flowering trees and, perhaps the most striking of all, 16 portraits of plants with edible fruits: pomelo, rambutan, mangosteen, custard-apple, bread-fruit, mango, bananas, star-fruit and papaya amongst others.
First edition. folio (59.5 x 45 cm), 40 chromolithographed plates by P. Depannemaeker after Hoola van Nooten, some heightened in gum arabic; contemporary green half morocco gilt, all edges gilt, a fine copy.
Provenance: William Ogilvy Dalgleish of Errol (1832-1913), (bookplate).
Great Flower Books (1990) p. 103; Landwehr 80; Nissen BBI 93; Oak Spring Flora 87; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 3025.
Stock ID: 99618