Jane Wells Loudon. “Procumbent Azalea…” From The Ladies’ Flower-Garden of British Wildflowers. London: William Smith, 1846. Ca. 9 1/4 x 7 (image). Lithograph by Day & Haghe. Original hand color. Very good condition.
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A lovely antique botanical print from a bright and wonderfully decorative set of images from Jane Loudon’s famous Ladies’ Flower Garden. Jane Wells Webb Loudon (1807-1858) was an accomplished English author and gardener. Her novel, The Mummy!: Or a Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, issued anonymously in 1827, was an early example of science fiction, in which she wrote of the future with imagined changes in society and technology, some of which—like an early form of the internet, air-conditioning and espresso machines—seem prophetic today.
One of Jane’s inventions was a steam powered digging machine, something which caught the eye of John Claudius Loudon, a well-respected landscape designer, botanist, gardener, author and publisher of Gardener’s Magazine. He asked a friend to invite the author to lunch and was greatly surprised when this turned out to be a woman. The surprise soon turned into love and just seven months later, in 1831, Jane and John married. Through her marriage, Jane became an enthusiastic gardener and worked closely with her husband in his research and writing. Her interest in gardens, plus the need to pay off family debts, led Jane to create her own series of guides to make gardening more accessible to young women.
The result was her an impressive set of gardening books and guides designed for the cultured young women of British society. Probably the most famous of her output were the Ladies’ Flower Garden books, which were both decorative and educational. Jane had become a self-taught artist and these books were illustrated with beautifully rendered, hand-colored lithographs.