Sunday, April 18, 2010

More orchid lithographs

James Bateman was a landowner and horticulturalist, lived 1811-1897. He created the famous gardens at Biddulph with the aid of his friend and painter of seascapes Edward William Cooke. Bateman published the largest orchid book in his time. Most, but not all, lithographs on this page are from Bateman. All of these photos are from wikimedia commons.

Bateman's book is available here, at

The lithographs are especially beautiful. Many show the entire plant, not just the decapitated flowers. The lithographs were as much about understanding the biology as they were about appreciating the beauty. Most orchids grow on tree branches, although there are nonepiphytic species, so drawings that include tree branches and exposed roots are more revealing and realistic than pictures of blossoms.

Bateman corresponded with Charles Darwin, who was fascinated by orchids (Darwin wrote a monograph on the ways that orchids interact with insects to ensure cross pollination). In January 1862 while researching insect pollination of orchids, Charles Darwin received a package of orchids from the distinguished horticulturist James Bateman, and in a follow up letter with a second package Bateman's son Robert confirmed the names of the specimens, including Angraecum sesquipedale from Madagascar.

The orchid explorers must have had a powerful sense of adventure. Those who grew them back in their own greenhouses, must have been happy to escape into their own world, as well. I think I understand, and would like that as well.

Oncidium chrysothyrsus

Oncidium insleayi or Rossioglossum insleayi

Galeandra Baueri

Dendrobium capillipes (this is from a different reference and is not a American species)

Cattleya schilleriana

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