• Elizabeth Blackwell

    1707-1758

    Elizabeth Blachrie was born in Aberdeen in 1707, daughter of a successful Scottish merchant William Blachrie. Due to the social status of her family she studied art, music and languages. Elizabeth secretly married her second cousin, Alexander Blackwell, and the couple moved to London where Alexander set up as a printer. This venture didn't last as family debt started to build up and lead to Alexander spending two years in prison. Needing to support her family, Elizabeth started researching and sketching plant specimens which eventually lead to her now famous work.

    A Curious Herbal contained 500 illustrations and was published in 125 weekly installments between 1736 and 1739.

     

    The first printing of A Curious Herbal was quite successful -- not so much due to its scientific quality of the illustrations as to the great need for an updated herbal. Surgeons, doctors, and apothecaries acclaimed the work, yet its highest distinction was a commendation from the Royal College of Physicians. It was reissued 20 years later in a revised and enlarged format in Nuremberg by Dr. Jacob Trew, a botanist and physician, between 1757 and 1773. 
    Herbarium Blackwellanum at Botanicus


     

     

     

     

     

     

    Little is known of Elizabeth's later years except that she died in 1758, and was laid to rest in a Chelsea cemetery.

    References

    Blunt, Wilfrid and William T. Stearn. The Art of Botanical Illustration. Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: The Antique Collectors’ Club, Ltd., 1994. 

    Dunethorne, Gordon. Flower and Fruit Prints of the 18th and 19th Centuries. London: Dulau & Colk 1938.

    Sitwell, Sacheverell and Wilflrid Blunt. Great Flower Books 1700-1900: A bibliographical record of two centuries of finely illustrated flower books. New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990.

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