This bold and enormous color lithograph tells of the blossoming of the largest water lily in the world. John Fisk Allen, the amateur botanist who owned the depicted Victoria Regia, prepared the text to accompany Sharp’s lithographs. Incorporated in that text is an historical account by Sir Joseph Paxton prepared for a memoir of the lily by Sir W. J. Hooker, published in London in 1851. The following rich description from that memoir appears at page 13 of Allen’s text: “On Thursday afternoon, at 4 o’clock, two of the outer flower leaves (calyx) sprung off with great force, and in three fourths of an hour from this time, the regal beauty of the waters had displayed its first stage of glory! As each broad petal unfurled itself, it fell partly backwards, until three distinct rows formed a cup of rare elegance and of apparently the whitest purity. The still air of the greenhouse was now filled with its rich perfume, as if it were some conscious Beneficence silently blessing all in its august presence. This chaste cup of ivory-like color was set off by the yet unfolded interior flower leaves (petals), betraying a few streaks of carmine tints, whose splendor was yet to be revealed.”


  • Title: untitled
  • Creator: William Sharp
  • Date Created: 1854
  • Physical Dimensions: Image Dimensions Height/Width: 394 x 546 mm, Image Dimensions Height/Width: 15 1/2 x 21 1/2 in
  • Type: prints
  • Medium: color lithograph

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