William Kilburn, Dandelion

William Kilburn, Dandelion

William Kilburn (1745-1818)
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
Plate 107 from ‘Flora Londinensis’
Published in parts by William Curtis in London between 1777 and 1798
Hand-coloured engraving
Museum no. E.455-1996

William Kilburn worked as a botanical illustrator. He produced most of the plates in the first volume of William Curtis's Flora Londinensis, a field guide to the wild flowers growing within ten miles of London. This was a serial publication that came out between 1777 and 1798. Unusually for the time it was made, Curtis’ book shows the plants complete with roots, recalling earlier herbals. This engraving is based on Kilburn's design. The original watercolour survives in the Botany Library of the Natural History Museum in London.

Kilburn had served an apprenticeship (a period of training for a trade) in a cotton-printing factory in Dublin in Ireland. When he moved to London he continued to sell designs to calico-printers. He gave up his work as a botanical illustrator to go back to the textile industry, where he could earn more money. Eventually he owned his own calico-printing factory, for which he designed exquisitely detailed floral patterns. A volume of his designs for textiles is in the V&A collection.

This print can be found in Print Room Box DP1.