This sumptuous, originally hand-colored lithograph is from Robert H. Schomburgk’s Twelve Views in the Interior of Guiana. The work was published in London in 1841 by Ackermann and Co. The hand-coloring was finished with gum arabic by Guaci. The work detailed an important natural history expedition to Guyana, South America with spectacular folio illustrations.
Schomurgk directed James Morrison, the draughtsman for the expedition to draw up sketches. The illustrations were drawn by Charles Bentley from Morrison’s sketch work. The lithography completed by George Barnard, Coke Smyth, and P. Gauci. The lithographs were printed by Gauci and Charles Hullmandel. The work also included an engraved map done by John Arrowsmith. The frontispiece was a “gift” for subscibers to the work that illustrated the Victoria regia water lily which Schomburgk was the first to manage to return a specimen to England.
Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk (1804-1865) was a German-born explorer. He was employed by Great Britain and the Royal Geographical Society and carried out geographical, ethnological, and botanical studies in South America and the West Indies. He served as a diplomat on missions to the Dominican Republic and Thailand. He surveyed Anegada in the Virgin Islands and the rivers Essequibo (the first European to reach here), Corentyn, and Berbice. He discovered the giant water lily, Victoria regia, in 1837. He was knighted by patent in 1844.
“On his return to Europe, Schomburgk represented to the British government the necessity of settling the actual boundary of British Guiana, for commercial and humanitarian reasons. He had witnessed the forcible abduction by Brazilians of Amerindians from what he later declared to be British territory and wished to ensure the native peoples’ safety from such practice. In April 1840 he was appointed a commissioner for surveying and marking out the boundaries of the colony, and before returning to South America he wrote A Description of British Guiana, Geographical and Statistical (1840), which was in its original form a report to the Colonial Office and is the first detailed account of the colony. For more popular consumption he published by subscription Twelve Views in the Interior of Guiana (1841), and two volumes in The Naturalist’s Library (ed. W. Jardine) entitled The Fishes of Guiana (1841-43).”
“Schomburgk returned to British Guiana in 1841 and began by marking the line on the north-west with Venezuela. During 1841[-43] he extended his survey southward, making Pirara his headquarters, and finishing by a journey thence overland to the headwaters of the Corentyn, down which river he descended to Demerara (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 15, 1845, 1 104). Some of his journeys were made under extremely arduous conditions and would be as difficult to complete today as when Schomburgk undertook them. His delimitation proposals, known as the Schomburgk line, subsequently became famous during the prolonged boundary disputes between British Guiana and the neighbouring countries of Brazil and Venezuela. This line formed the basis of negotiations until the frontier with Venezuela was settled by arbitration in 1899 and that with Brazil in 1904, and then proved decisive in the final delineation of the boundaries.”(G. C. Boase, rev. Peter Rivière for DNB)