James Edward Smith M.D., F.R.S., President of the Linnean Society…
James Edward Smith M.D., F.R.S., President of the Linnean Society; The Pursuit of the Ship containing the Linnean Collection by order of the King of Sweden.

London: Published for Dr. Thornton, 25 March, 1800.

Stipple engraved oval portrait of James Edward Smith above line-engraved view of 'The Pursuit of the ship containing the Linnaean Collection by order of the King of Spain', on the one sheet 480 x 350 mm., mounted; although with good margins the print has in fact been trimmed at lower edge with loss of lower captions (attribution to Russell, engraver Ridley's name, and the publication credit).

The author of the first book devoted to Australian botany

Fine portrait of Sir James Edward Smith, founder of the Linnean Society, one of the foremost botanical artists of the eighteenth century, and author of the first botany of Australian plants. Smith (1759-1828) was one of the earliest proponents of the great Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in England, and the vignette at the bottom of this portrait shows one of the famous events of Smith's youth, his purchase of the Linnaean collection of books, manuscripts and specimens for 1000 guineas which he spirited away to London in 1784. In his later biography Smith stated that Gustav III of Sweden, who had been absent in France, 'vainly sent a belated vessel to the Sound to intercept the ship which carried them', but despite being perpetuated here, the story is likely apocryphal (DNB).

Fine portrait of Sir James Edward Smith, founder of the Linnean Society, one of the foremost botanical artists of the eighteenth century, and author of the first botany of Australian plants. Smith (1759-1828) was one of the earliest proponents of the great Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in England, and the vignette at the bottom of this portrait shows one of the famous events of Smith's youth, his purchase of the Linnaean collection of books, manuscripts and specimens for 1000 guineas which he spirited away to London in 1784. In his later biography Smith stated that Gustav III of Sweden, who had been absent in France, 'vainly sent a belated vessel to the Sound to intercept the ship which carried them', but despite being perpetuated here, the story is likely apocryphal (DNB).

Smith was one of the leading naturalists in England and the author of several outstanding botanical books. In London in the early 1790s he was not only the author of the Botany of New Holland but worked on the publication of First Fleet surgeon John White's Journal of 1790. In 1788 he had founded, and was the first President of, the Linnean Society which became a meeting place for botanists. The Linnean collections and library that he had brought to England were at the core of the Society's resources. Sir Joseph Banks was a close colleague; the collaboration between these great naturalists ensured that Australia's first illustrated flower book was among the finest of the period.

This charming portrait is after a pastel by John Russell. A copy of the portrait is believed to have hung in the picture collection of Alexander Macleay, Colonial Secretary of New South Wales from 1826 onward; until leaving for Australia in 1825 he had been secretary of the Linnean Society in London. The portrait was prepared for Robert Thornton's monumental Temple of Flora which began printing in 1799 and was completed by 1807. Thornton hoped the work would surpass the Germans in scholarship and the French in artistry, publishing a work which not included botanical plates but also five portraits of famous botanists, of which this is one. The portraits do seem to have also been available separately, which might explain the particularly large margins of this sheet.

Price (AUD): $1,250.00

US$807.51   Other currencies

Ref: #5000730