Georg Dionysius Ehret, American Turk’s-cap Lily

Georg Dionysius Ehret, American Turk’s-cap Lily

Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70)
American Turk's-cap Lily, Lilium superbum
1740s
Watercolour and gouache on vellum
Museum no. D.589-1886

An outstandingly successful botanical artist, Ehret was well-connected to study new species in private collections. Ehret studied the Turks-cap Lily in the garden of Peter Collinson, an avid collector of new plants who lived just outside London. Ehret notes that this lily 'first flowered in August 1738'.

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-78) was the first scientist to classify plants not according to the way people used them, but by physical similarities between their reproductive parts. The influence of this new system is apparent in these drawings. They focus on the flowers and are represented according to the standard conventions of botanical illustration in silhouette against a white ground. The caption reflects the older method of using a string of descriptive Latin terms.

This drawing can be found in Print Room Box DP2.