Bauer's 'Illustrationes' | State Library of New South Wales

Bauer's 'Illustrationes'

Ferdinand Bauer made several thousand sketches and drawings during the Investigator expedition with Matthew Flinders from 1801 to 1805. As well as circumnavigating the Australian coast and collecting and sketching plants from previously unstudied regions, such as South Australia and Victoria, Bauer spent several months studying the plant life of Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. Bauer used a detailed numerical code when sketching in the field, in order that he might accurately reproduce the colours and shades in each plant, with a number and abbreviated notes representing each colour and shade (with up to 1000 shades represented). When he returned to England in 1805, Bauer began working up his field sketches into finished paintings, then engraving large and detailed copper plates for publication. He intended to produce a large number of exquisite published plates to accompany Robert Brown's scientific descriptions of the plants discovered on the Flinders journey. His perfectionism, however, meant that the work was slow. According to his brother, Franz: 'Ferdinand could not find people capable either of engraving or colouring the plates properly and consequently obliged to execute every part of the work with his own hands thus occupying far too much time. Very few indeed coloured copies has he been able to prepare and sell.'

Finally, his grand publication, Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae, was abandonded after only 15 plates were completed. Only 50 copies, hand-coloured by Bauer, were ever produced. 


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Ferdinandi Bauer Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae, sive, Icones generum quae in Prodromo florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen descripsit Robertus Brown, Londini : Veneunt apud auctorem, 10 Russel Street, Bloomsbury, 1813
Printed volume  SAFE/ F581.99/ B  copy 1 

 > View the complete text and images for Bauer's Illustrationes in the Library's catalogue Catalogue link