Elizabeth Blackwell

Having trained as an artist, Elizabeth Blackwell is notable for being one of the first botanical artists to personally draw, etch, engrave and hand colour her own designs. As the first British female botanical illustrator, she is gaining much renewed interest amongst art collectors and aficionados of botanical etchings in the 21st Century.

Her husband was committed to a debtors prison and “A Curious Herbal” was undertaken to raise the money to release him from prison. It took 6 years to complete drawing specimens of plants available in the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was the first Herbal reference book for physicians in England.

Upon his release, her husband emigrated to Sweden where he became involved in a succession conspiracy and, as a result, was beheaded on 29 July 1747.

Elizabeth died in 1758. Her grave is in the churchyard at Chelsea Old Church and she is one of the four names on a plaque in Chelsea Old Church dedicated to the memory of Chelsea women distinguished by their learning and piety.

The Plates

Each plate is taken from Volume 1 of A Curious Herbal,: containing five hundred cuts, of the most useful plants, which are now used in the practice of physick.

They are engraved on folio copper plates, after drawings taken from the life by Elizabeth Blackwell. To which is added a short description of ye plants; and their common uses in physick.

The dimensions of the book and folio sheets would indicate that these are from the 1st or 2nd edition dated 1737 or 1739 (London: Printed for John Nourse at the Lamb without Temple Bar).

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Elizabeth Blackwell | Group of 12 Botanical Aquatints

Stock Number: 40314

Plates from Volume 1 of A Curious Herbal, 1737-9: Engraved on folio copper plates, after drawings taken from life, by Elizabeth Blackwell.



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Approximate Dimensions

  • Framed Height : 50.5 cm (19.9 inches)
  • Framed Width : 37.5 cm (14.5 inches)
  • Sight Height: 30.5 cm (12 inches)
  • Sight Width: 20 cm (7.9 inches)
  • Folio Height: 37 cm (14.5 inches)
  • Folio Width: 24 cm (9.44 inches)

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