Pencil and watercolour, inscribed in pencil in the lower left hand corner Lachenalia, watermark C & I Honig
320 x 201 mm. (12 x 8 in.)
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Lachenalia is a genus of bulbs in the Hyacinthaceae family, which are usually found in Namibia and South Africa. Most of these plants have a dormancy period, and the new roots of these plants will always grow every year. Our watercolour looks closest to Lachenalia aloides which are by far the most popular of the genus Lachenalia. Due to the fresh condition of our watercolour it is likely it came from an album.
The author of this watercolour almost certainly saw it in one of the botanic gardens that were in Holland at this time such as The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. This is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world. Originally, the Hortus was a medicinal herb garden, founded in 1638 by the Amsterdam City Council. At that time, herbs were of vital importance as the basis of medicines and the city had just experienced a plague epidemic. Doctors and pharmacists trained in the preparation of prescriptions at the Hortus. Due to the Dutch East India Company the Hortus expanded quickly in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The ships brought back not only herbs and spices, but also exotic ornamental plants. In fact, a few of the Hortus' 'crown jewels' date from that time, e.g. the 300-year-old Eastern Cape giant cycad.