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Proliferous Pineapple. Striking image by Sir John Hill c1770.

Proliferous Pineapple. Striking image by Sir John Hill c1770.

by Hill, John

Wonderfully three-dimensional 18th century Pineapple antique print.

Original hand-coloured copperplate engraving for The Vegetable System. Or, The Internal Structure, and the Life of Plants, the most extensive 18th century botanical work, published in London between 1770 and 1775 by its author, (Sir) John Hill (c1714-1775). The Vegetable System was begun at the instigation of Hill’s patron, John Stuart, third Earl of Bute, whose financial support enabled this ambitious publication to continue for over fifteen years. Lord Bute began laying out Kew Gardens in 1760 with Hill as his adviser, and undoubtedly Bute would have contributed extensively to the text of The Vegetable System. Financial disputes between Bute and Hill resulted in Hill’s bankruptcy and subsequent death in 1775 according to Hill’s widow in her Address to the Public (1788).

In recognition of John Hill’s contribution in the field of agriculture, the Order of Vasa was bestowed on him in 1774 by King Gustavus III of Sweden. This knighthood was subsequently recognized by King George III, but Mr Hill’s flamboyant social life, in which he claimed to be an author, botanist, apothecary, gardener, landscape architect, playwrite, actor, and journalist, alienated many people beyond the ones he satirized in his writings. He was generally irritating to all and sundry, resulting in opposition to acknowledgement of his status in any field - in particular, his most coveted election as a Fellow of the Royal Society despite his being more eligible than many of those who were appointed.

Isaac Disraeli wrote, “Yet Sir John Hill, this despised man, after all the fertile absurdities of his literary life, performed more for the improvement of the Philosophical Transactions, and was the cause of diffusing a more general taste for the science of botany, than any other contemporary.”

This is a large image, 47 x 28cm (18.1/2 x 11 inches), close-cropped at left, with other page edges brittle with age - none of which would detract from this dramatic image when framed. 


Stock Number: apSJH13Price: $300.00