Category Archives: France

Plant of the Month: August 2018

This month, I give you Gladiolus murielae, for no better reason (or, in my opinion, the extremely cogent reason) that I have, after several years of trying, actually got it to flower this year! Admittedly, one flower and one bud … Continue reading

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Doomed to Find a Premature Grave

These portentous words appear in the introduction to the 1834 English edition of Letters from India by the French natural historian Victor Jacquemont (1801–32), ‘Travelling Naturalist to the Museum of Natural History, Paris’. If his name is remembered now in … Continue reading

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(Yet) Another Artist Of Whom I’d Never Heard

Well, had you (assuming, of course, that you are not an expert in eighteenth-century French flower paintings) heard of Gerard van Spaendonck? You will gather from his name that he was not French – he was born in 1746, in … Continue reading

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Object of the Month: June 2018

This fire screen, standing 104 cm (3 ft 5 ins) tall, must in the summer have graced fireplace of a well-to-do eighteenth-century individual, probably in France. When I first noticed it, I thought it was embroidered, perhaps by a daughter … Continue reading

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Mariana Starke

Miss Starke (sometimes given the ‘courtesy’ title of Mrs) had the great good fortune to have relatives who needed nursing in a benign climate abroad. (Less good luck for the relatives, obviously.) As a consequence, instead of staying in the … Continue reading

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Chapmen

Looking the other day at the brief record of the bankruptcy of Christian Schindler, who may have been the ‘Honest Man’ commemorated by his friends at St Martin within Ludgate in 1830, I was struck by how many of the … Continue reading

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The Unusual Grand Tour of Sir J.E. Smith

Although, in my previous existence, I had been involved in reissuing the hagiographic two-volume ‘life and letters’ of Sir J.E. Smith (1759–1828), founding president of the Linnean Society, written by his delightfully named widow, Pleasance, I did not actually read … Continue reading

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