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Cultivator of exotic plants and member of the ‘Society of Gardeners,’ Robert Furber was renowned amongst horticulturalists for his unusual success with imported plants from the Americas. His nursery garden in Kensington was host to many impressive species, most notably the Tulip Tree, that was nearly impossible to grow in the harsh English climate.

In the late 1720’s, Furber commissioned the famous engraver Pieter Casteels to design a series of monthly broadsheets that would each feature a different decadent floral bouquet, and Henry Fletcher to engrave the works. Although the Baroque style and artistry of the prints allowed them to stand alone as decorative wall hangings, they were actually cleverly disguised catalogues for the 400 different species of flowering plants Furber sold out of his nursery. Each flower is detailed and distinctly separate from its surrounding species, and each is labeled with a number that corresponds to the flower’s common name at the bottom of the page. Every new month promoted the assortment of flowers that would be blooming in Furber’s nursery at the time.

Of the 345 floriculturists listed on the subscription page, the majority of Furber’s supporters were women. Surrounding the the register of names are various labeled flowers that Furber grew in his nursery, the centerpiece being the Primrose auricula at the top center of the page that was named in honor of Queen Caroline. Furber dedicated this collection to her, her son Frederick, Prince of Wales, and to her eldest daughter Anne, the Princess Royal.

There are no records to say whether or not Furber’s beautiful advertising campaign was effective in increasing his flower sales, but the prints themselves were so beloved that Furber followed this collection with a 12-month series of fruit, and a less expensive catalog of both fruit and flowers titled, “A Short Introduction to Gardening.” Embraced as a wall hanging, Furber’s prints continued to be reproduced for centuries after he originally released the series.

Details

  • Title: Twelve months of flowers
  • Creator: Robert Furber, Pieter Casteels, Henry Fletcher
  • Date Created: 1730

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