Joseph Constantine Stadler (active 1780–1812) after a painting by Peter Charles Henderson (active 1791–1829)
Carrion Plant, Stapelia hirsuta
Plate from 'Temple of Flora'
Published in parts by Robert Thornton in London between 1799 and 1807 Colour aquatint with additional hand-colouring
Museum no. Circ.524-1967
Robert Thornton's Temple of Flora was an ambitious and in many ways a magnificent botanical publication. Its large-scale illustrations represent exotic plants in a melodramatic way. Though visually impressive, the illustrations were often botanically deficient, for the artists were painters of portraits and landscapes, and none of them had any botanical training. The plants were not always depicted in a convincing habitat but set in elaborate picturesque landscapes containing only clues as to the country of origin. Robert Thornton describes 'the maggot-bearing stapelia' (Carrion Plant) in his introductory explanation as shown with 'a green African snake, and a blow-fly in the act of depositing her eggs in the flower, with the maggots produced from this cause'. The plant is shown in a mountainous northern forest while stapeliads are found only in arid deserts of southern Africa.
Thornton published his great work in parts between 1799 and 1807. At this time there were many competing publications. He failed to sell sufficient copies, and he eventually went bankrupt from the costs of producing the plates.
This print can be found in Print Room Box DP2.