London. Bradbury & Evans. 1855 - 1856.
Nature-printed color plate, sheet 21 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches. Scattered foxing, 1 1/2 inch tear to right lower edge. This beautiful folio-sized antique botanical print is Plate XIII from "The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland ..., Nature-Printed by Henry Bradbury" published in 1855-1856 "one of the finest pieces of nature-printing ever achieved...The plates were produced 'by passing the plant, under pressure, between a plate of soft lead from which an electrotype could be made' (Blunt). As a result the plates record the smallest details of flowers and the finest venations of leaves. Bradbury, whose father was of the publishing house Bradbury & Evans, studied at the Imperial Printing Office in Vienna." (de Belder catalogue #237). The mania for ferns (or "pteridomania") was one of several plant fixations of the Victorians, fueled by discoveries from abroad and a rapidly expanding middle class interested in plants and gardening; ferns were ideal indoor plants for the Victorian home and their graceful forms were much used in decorative art. Item #50451