Descripcion de las plantas que D. Antonio Josef Cavanilles demostró en las lecciones públicas del año 1801…. MALASPINA, Antonio José CAVANILLES.
Descripcion de las plantas que D. Antonio Josef Cavanilles demostró en las lecciones públicas del año 1801…

Descripcion de las plantas que D. Antonio Josef Cavanilles…
Descripcion de las plantas que D. Antonio Josef Cavanilles demostró en las lecciones públicas del año 1801…

Madrid: Imprenta Real, after, 1827.

Thick octavo; in contemporary mottled calf, flat spine gilt, front hinge worn, a few bumps.

Australian plants in the botanical gardens of Madrid

An account of the exotic plants known in 1802 by the great Spanish botanist Antonio José Cavanilles in his role as director of the Madrid Botanical Garden. This work includes early notice of a series of Australian plants, notably including those collected on the Malaspina voyage, but is also of significance as a de facto plant catalogue of the Madrid collection.

An account of the exotic plants known in 1802 by the great Spanish botanist Antonio José Cavanilles in his role as director of the Madrid Botanical Garden. This work includes early notice of a series of Australian plants, notably including those collected on the Malaspina voyage, but is also of significance as a de facto plant catalogue of the Madrid collection.
There were at least two issues of this work, in 1802 and then in 1827: this copy, missing its title-page but otherwise identical to the 1827 issue (with the errata corrected), would most likely have been issued later again, the title-page discarded.
The Malaspina expedition, which visited Port Jackson in 1793, had two professional botanists on board, Luis Née and Thaddeus Haenke. The two men made collections at all of their ports of call including around Sydney, and on their return gave all of the notes and specimens to Cavanilles, who described the material in his very rare Icones et Descriptiones Plantarum (1791-1801). From 1801 Cavanilles was the director at Madrid Botanical Garden, and this work is a direct result of the appointment, in which he made a careful survey with extensive notes of the plants being grown there in the form of a synthesis and guide to published specimens.
Malaspina's expedition to the South Seas had been of great importance, but the commander's enemies at court ensured that no account appeared in print. A private account (by the ensign Viana) was published in Montevideo in 1849, but no trace of any official accoutn appeared in Spain until a very abridged narrative of 1885. Cavanilles' work thus has even further importance as one of the earliest notices of any results of the voyage.
The work begins with a brief prologue by Cavanilles dated 1 March 1802 in which he describes his appointment to the Garden (pp. iii-vi), and this is followed by a lengthy introduction on the principles of botany (pp. vii-cxxxvi). The remainder of the work is a list of over a thousand plants with notes, including references to Cavanilles' own Icones, but also the work of friends and colleagues such as James Edward Smith, Bougainville's botanist Philibert Commerson, and particularly the work of Née on the Malaspina voyage. There are references to many other botanists and their publications, including the British journals then being published such as Curtis' Botanical Magazine.
Written just before the great explosion in knowledge about Australian plants which can be dated to around 1805 and the publication of Smith & Sowerby's Exotic Botany, there is nonetheless an impressive selection of some 29 Australian plants, notably eight different varieties of banksia, but also an Australian Lambertia, Proteas from around Port Jackson, several Hakea and various other specimens, most of which are sporting long outdated nomenclature. Cavanilles, for example, lists five varieties of "Embothrium" from New Holland - in doing so he was merely following the lead of James Edward Smith, who thought that Australian plants including the waratah were of this species. There is also notice of 24 plants from the Cape of Good Hope. Perhaps the biggest selection, unsurprisingly, comes from "Nueva-Espana", that is, central America; at least one (no. 1086) is specifically listed as from as far north as Monterey.

Price (AUD): $1,100.00  other currencies     Ref: #4109666

Condition Report