Sunday, 3 June 2007

Curtis's Botanical Magazine, 1787 - today.

From 1787-1800 (Volumes 1-14), William Curtis published The Botanical Magazine. Then, from 1801-1807 (Volumes 15-26), John Sims published Curtis's Botanical Magazine. The Principal artist for both publishers was Sydenham S. Edwards.

The picture on the left is Plate No. 454 from the magazine, and interestingly the textual description accompanying the picture states that the flower colour of Canna indica is "red to pink-red or orange". All of those forms are available today, but most references to Canna indica state that it is red, no reference being made to the other colour forms.

William Curtis (1746-1799) was a trained pharmacist living in London, England, whose greater interest was the study of flora and insects. He maintained a large garden where he grew beautiful exotic plants, and began publishing the Curtis Botanical Magazine in 1787.

Sydenham Edwards was the son of a Welsh schoolmaster. He accompanied William Curtis on his botanical travels as an artist and worked with Curtis many years on the Botanical Magazine. He served as that magazine's principal artist for 27 years, until, following a disagreement in 1815 with John Sims, Curtis' successor, he founded his own magazine, the Botanical Register.

A collection of the first 164 volumes of Curtis's Botanical Magazine is housed at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, USA. Although it has gone through many iterations, Curtis' magazine is still being published today.

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