This first edition, hand-colored botanical engraving is from John Hill’s Eden: Or, a Compleat Body of Gardening, containing plain and familiar directions for raising the several useful products of a garden…….. compiled and digested from the papers of the late celebrated Mr. Hale, by the authors of the compleat body of husbandry. And comprehending the art of constructing a garden for use and pleasure; the best methods of keeping it in order: and the most perfect accounts of its several products. The work was published in London by T. Osborne in 1757. The work was attributed to John Hill, but perhaps by Thomas Hale.
The engravings featured work from C. Edwards & Darly, J. Hill, Boyce, Philips, B. Cole, Ed. Alton and others, after Edwards, J. Hill, Van Huysum and others. The work is considered one of the most important 18th century gardening books. In the introduction for the work, the author’s intentions are made plain: “We shall treat Gardens from their Origin, Design, and first Construction, to raising them to Perfection, and keeping them in that condition; and we shall consider, in our Course, their Products, whether of Use, Curiosity, or Beauty. These we shall describe in their several Seasons, suiting our Publications to the Time of their Appearance.”
Henrey writes of Sir John Hill that “Not only was … [he] industrious and energetic, but his writings show him to have been a man of real ability and genius” (vol. II, p. 91). Hill’s personality was known to be abrasive and he made many enemies in noted circles. However, DNB says that “his reputation has been somewhat reclaimed since. At the end of the millennium, Hill was recognized as less of a quack and dilettante, and, to use George Rousseau’s phrase, more ‘a type of Renaissance man in the eighteenth century.'”