William e Mary Butt

Watercolors, Flowers of the Bombay Presidency gathered and painted while they were still fresh by Mrs. Mary E. Butt during the years [..]

EUR 15.000,00
Starting price
EUR 30.000,00 / 40.000,00


William e Mary Butt
Watercolors, Flowers of the Bombay Presidency gathered and painted while they were still fresh by Mrs. Mary E. Butt during the years [..]

375 x 282 mm 

Folio; Contemporary half calf and cardboard, gilt spine with title and ornaments, corners;

202 stunning watercolored drawings of flowers. Fine specimen.

Condition Report

INDIAN FLOWERS. Splendid original Herbal of 202 drawings of Indian flowers and plants in contemporary Watercolor Painting.

Exceptional document, scientifically of great importance and at the same time of particular prestige for the exquisite quality of the stretch and the chromatic rendering, which reproduces faithfully the delicate color tones. The flowers were portrayed live by Mary Elizabeth Butt and later were masterly watercoloured by her husband William. Except for five plates, all the others are accompanied by a handwritten inscription in pencil, with the name of the flower, often in Latin with the corresponding 'native name' or 'hindu name', its characteristics, the garden or the location from which the flower has been taken, as well as any medical or nutritional uses. 15 drawings bear the date, respectively: 1856, 4; 1857, 8; 1858, 2; 1860, 1. The most frequent areas, all in the Maharashtra region, are: Hope Hall Garden in Matheran, Malabar Hill, Nashik, Mahabaleshwar, Deccan Highland. In addition to the vivid paintings of the most attractive ornamental flowers, Lotus, Roses, Marigolds, Orchids and some beautiful Cactus, are also painted plants with special properties and edible plants, different types of cereals and fruits such as Mango. Tomato is presented as "Lycopersicum, Tomato or Love Apple" and it is noted that it is eaten in "salads and soups". Interesting the representation of Kapok Tree, presented as "Cotton, native name Sauri ... Called the 'Silk cotton tree'" (42); about Curcuma Zedoaria, "Hindu Ran-Huldi" various properties are indicated beginning with roots that are "used as a perfume" (59). Curious is the representation of the Bauhinia racemosa, whose leaves are used to produce the thin Indian cigarettes called beedi.

As far as science goes, important for botanical knowledge are the flowers used for medical purposes, both for Western medicine and for Ayurvedic medicine: Randia Dumetorum “used for poisoning fish … Very common at Mahableshwur” (23); Cassia Florida, “a handsome tree … the Senna of medicine” (47); The Elephant Creeper, ‘Samudra Soka’, “the leaves are used by natives as medicine”; Wrightia Antidysenterica, “Indu name Koora … it is said to furnish the Conessi bark of the Materia Medica” (120). This is the Codaga-shovel, remedy in dysenteries, worms, and intermittent fevers.

Let us finally say that the handwritten notes, although reduced to the essentials, may be of great interest to the information they contain on Indian flora, often with news not found in the contemporary scientific literature dedicated to botany in the Bombay region, such as the John Graham, published in 1839.


 See: Graham, John, A catalogue of the plants growing in Bombay and its vicinty; spontaneous, cultivated or introduced, as far as they have been ascertained, Bombay, Government Press,1839; Umberto Quattrocchi, CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology (5 Volume Set), CRC Press, 2016.

sun 9 December 2018
Auction times
Exhibition Time: Wednesday 5 December to Saturday 8 December 2018 from 10 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.