I’ve always wanted to visit Bannerman Castle (fourth one down), which is in an island in the Hudson an hour or two upstate. Putting this one on my summer to do list.
William Sharp, one of the first chromolithographic printers in the U.S., created these extraordinary illustrations for the large folio Victoria Regia (1854) by John Fisk Allen. Allen, a well-known horticulturalist, cultivated a specimen of the rare, huge (up to 8 feet in diameter), fast-growing (up to an inch an hour!) water lily, native to the Amazon. After months of careful tending, the plant—named in honor of the recently-crowned Queen Victoria—blossomed on the evening of July 21, 1853. Sharp’s depictions of this exotic wonder—in various stages of bloom—were masterpieces and elevated the then-nascent art of chromolithography to spectacular new heights.
image captions: All images are from a copy of Victoria Regia in our collections. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.