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This beautiful folio, botanical engraving is from Georg Ehret & Griffith Hughes’s work The Natural History of Barbados. The work was printed in London in 1750. Hunt praises the work: “This book is one to place beside Catesby’s Natural History” and it is often seen as a companion to Sloane’s Jamaica.
Each plate features a crest with a dedication to a nobleman and natural flora or fauna of the island of Barbados. The engravings are after original drawings by Georg Dionysius Ehret, who was arguably one of the greatest botanical artists of the 18th century.
Ehret, a brilliant botanical artist, was unrivalled in his ability to “achieve realism, majesty, ineffable colour, all in one breathtaking look.” (Hunt) Born in Heidelberg in 1710, he originally worked as a gardener and practised drawing in his spare time. Ehret moved to London in the late 1730s, where he painted the recently introduced exotics at the Chelsea Physic Garden and established himself as a teacher of flower-painting and botany.
Griffith Hughes was a reverend, naturalist, and author. He was the first to describe the grapefruit (or Forbidden Fruit) which appeared in this work. The Natural History of Barbados was the first publication of scientific research conducted on location.
“This grows to be a considerably large straggling tree, cloathed with many leaves generally set in groups on the blunt extremities of the branches” (Griffith Hughes The Natural History of Barbados, London, 1750, p.189).