This month’s featured work is a ‘plate’ of delicious cherries, from an album of aquatints titled Pomona Britannica, produced by George Brookshaw and published in London in 1817.

Pomona Britannica by George Brookshaw

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Accurately drawn from nature, these ‘Early-May Red Heart’ cherries are a vibrant illustration of the great variety of fruit cultivated in the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court, one of the finest examples of British gardens. Designed by Daniel Marot (1661-1675), a French architect employed at the court of William III, the Great Parterre at Hampton Court consisted of a formal garden with planting beds displayed in a symmetrical way. This type of garden which originates in Renaissance France became popular in the 17th century and included fountains, topiary and sculptures. Marot’s design for Hampton Court Garden is included in his Nouveau Livre des Parterres.

The cherries illustrated in ‘Pomona Britannica’ are part of a series showing 7 different species of Cherries, 10 of Plums and Apricots, 15 of Peaches and Nectarines and 17 of Grapes, among others, all of which could be found in the garden of Hampton court at the beginning of the 19th century. The album includes 90 plates and presents 256 varieties of fruit from English gardens and orchards.

Brookshaw’s botanical publication is dedicated to the Prince Regent and was created for study, enjoyment and documentation purposes. Stemming from an ancient tradition which includes writers such as Dioscurides and Pliny the Elder, herbals or botanical illustrations reached their peak in Europe in the 17th and 18th century. English examples include Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal, Containing Five Hundred Cuts of the Most Useful Plants (1739) and Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1799-1807).

George Brookshaw (1751-1823) was a draughtsman and engraver of fruits and flowers. He was born in Birmingham in 1751 and died in London in 1823. Initially a cabinet maker specializing in painted furniture, he then became a teacher of flower painting and produced his first painting manual: A New Treatise on Flower Painting, published in 1797. He attracted distinguished patrons and was recognised for his distinguished technique.