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Lot 260 - - MELLISS, Mrs. John Charles 135 compositions of which 66 used to illustrate John [...]

Estimation : 9 000 € / 10 000 €

- MELLISS, Mrs. John Charles 135 compositions of which 66 used to illustrate John Melliss' work on Saint Helena.
[C. 1866-1870]
Drawings: 120 watercolour and 15 with black ink, various sizes (except botanical pls. : c. 33 x 23 cm), stuck on cardboard (foxing on cardboard and sometimes on pls.).
In 2 albums, 4to oblong and folio: threequarter dark green morocco, green cloth on boards, spines with raised bands, a.e.g. (sl. worn).
In 1875, John Charles Mellis published "St. Helena: a physical, historical, and topographical description of the island including its geology, fauna, flora and meteorology. The botanical plates from original drawings by Mrs. J.C. Melliss" (London, Reeve, 1875, 8vo), ill. with 3 maps and 53 lithographs printed by Vincent Brooks and John Nugent Fitch (1840-1927).
In total: 15 views (8 coloured, 7 b/w on 13 subjects, 32 botanical pls. (1 plant each), 1 pl. of a bird, 3 pls. of fish (20 subjects) and 1 pl. with various subjects. The qualified amateur naturalist Melliss (1835-1911) was a well-known British engineer on his native island of Saint Helena from 1860 to 1871, when he moved to London. The genus "Mellissia" was created to celebrate his work. Among the list of people in the preface, Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911), an English explorer and botanist known to have pushed Darwin to publish his research (Darwin had spent some time in Saint Helena 30 years before).

Illustrations captioned in English, separate into 2 albums (views and scientific contents).
Album I: 65 watercolours and 1 black pencil drawing, unsigned, some dated 1866, 1867, 1868, which makes 61 unpublished and 5 very similar to the published pls. (frontispiece, pls. 3, 5, 7, 11) showing Saint Helena island, various churches and buildings, many panoramic views or special cut-outs rocks. Only 3 watercolours are linked to Napoleon (the room where he died, his grave and an external view of Longwood house).

The last 9 watercolours illustrate excursions made in 1869 (boat, views of Tenerife, Madeira) and views of the United Kingdom, his new homeland, dated 1871 (Suffolk, Wales, Killinure Lough and Athlone in Ireland).

Album II: 55 watercolours and 14 black pencil drawings, undated, of which 7 unpublished: 31 botanical pls. with genus, species and variety (= pls. 25-53 of the publication, mainly in reverse, mostly inspired by the watercolours and signed "A.E.L.M." and/or "HK f.") of which 2 unpublished ("Poinsetia pulcherrima. St Helena July 1870" and "Cactus triangularis. Night blooming cereus. St Helena May 1870" or dragon fruit/pitaya),- 20 small watercolours of fish (= pls. 19-21 of the ed., same as the watercolours),- 11 drawings (= pls. 12-13, 15-18, same as the watercolours),- 5 entomological representations of which 3 in b/w and 4 unpublished.

Ref. www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/210090#page/5/mode/1up (digitalized copy).
Prov. H.J. Melliss, the author's son, in "Hatfield Bload Oak", Essex (ownership entry at the end of one album).

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