“AMONG THE MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL ROSE PAINTINGS”: WILLMOTT’S GENUS ROSA, WITH 132 SPLENDID FOLIO COLOR LITHOGRAPHS
WILLMOTT, Ellen Anne. The Genus Rosa. Drawings by Alfred Parsons. London: John Murray, 1910-14. Two volumes. Thick folio, original three-quarter dark green morocco gilt, raised bands, top edges gilt, uncut.
First edition of “the first great color-printed flower book of the 20th century,” one of approximately 1000 copies, with 132 splendid full-page chromolithographs of roses after watercolors by Alfred Parsons, and with numerous additional black-and-white illustrations. A fine copy.
Creator of the gardens at Warley Place, Ellen Willmott was known to her contemporaries as “the greatest of living women gardeners” (Gertrude Jekyll). She had over 60 plants named after her. “Willmott’s very considerable wealth enabled her to plan and plant a huge garden and keep it well maintained with the assistance of 104 gardeners. She, like Napoleon’s Josephine, fell in love with roses… she resolved to immortalize them by means of a great work. For this she needed an artist, and she commissioned Alfred Parsons (a member of the Royal Academy) to do the whole of the publication. The book was to be called The Genus Rosa and was to contain portraits of species roses only, no hybrids or varieties were to be included. It is, therefore, a very valuable reference book botanically… [Parsons’ watercolors] are among the most beautiful of all rose paintings… The flowers are, without doubt, exquisite” (Lys de Bray, 160). Himself an avid gardener, horticulturist and garden designer, Parsons produced “the first great color-printed flower book of the 20th century… It stands unrivaled, both as an account of the species and as a source of illustrations of wild roses” (Rix, The Art of the Botanist, 215). Nissen 2166. Stock, Rose Books 3173. Owner signature.
Only a very few tissue guards not present. All plates present and fine, colors vivid. A beautiful work in fine condition.