Mid 19thC Italian School in The Manner of Peter Casteels; A Botanical Study of Birds, Flowers & Butterflies

Origin: Italian
Period: Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1844
Height: 17 inches
Width: 22 inches
In Frame: 23.75 x 19.75 inches

The pen, ink and watercolour botanical study depicting thirty eight species of birds, flowers and butterflies centred around a large lobed urn with denoted key under giving the Latin names of each specimen, the whole dated ‘Luglio 1844’ (July 1844) bottom right, survives from mid nineteenth century Italy and is presented in a glazed mid twentieth century gilt frame.

This very fragile work has suffered somewhat in its 170-year life. Overall she is quite browned, creased, foxed and stained with fraying to the edges with numerous patches and repairs to these edges. There are several small tears mainly near the top of the picture though it is the edges rather than the main body that has suffered. There are some repairs and repainted touched up areas, particularly vertically down centre of picture. It has overall fade, though we think the condition is part of the decorative appeal, one could undertake restoration if so desired. The glazed frame is in fair condition, with gilt chipping from the edges and with the piece a little loose, though it remains sturdy and ready to hang.

There are thirty-eight specimens depicted, and keyed in Latin, which consists of twenty specimens of flower, five species of parrot, and thirteen specimens of butterfly. Examples include ‘Parochetto Snello’ or Slim Parakeet, ‘Parocchetto Nero a Tromba’ or Black Horned Parakeet, ‘Sphinx Atropa’ or Death's-head Hawk Moth, ‘Zygaena Cerbera’ or Burnet Moth and flowers such as the Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon, and fritillaria meleagris or snakes head fritillary.

1844 in Italy saw renewed Mazzinian attempts at armed rebellion, which were ruthlessly suppressed. Among these was the Calabrian expedition of 1844. The Bandiera Brothers were Italian patriots, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera and on the 23rd of July 1844 the two Bandiera brothers and their nine companions were executed by firing squad. Back in England, 1844 saw the publication of Charles Dickens' novel Martin Chuzzlewit, the creation of J. M. W. Turner’s – Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway (National Gallery, London) and The Royal Exchange in London was opened by Queen Victoria.

The best known English illustrations of Georgian flower arrangements are those designed by the Flemish artist Peter Casteels (1684-1749) for a nursery catalog called The Twelve Months of Flowers (1730). The flowers in each bouquet were numbered and keyed to a list at the bottom of the plate as they are here.

There are many poor contemporary reproduction pictures on sale currently that mimic this kind of style but this original is in a completely different stratosphere; simply stunning.