These seaweed presses would have been collected by an amateur botanist during a study of marine plant life in the late 18th century. At this time there was considerable interest in the natural world which ultimately led to scientists such as Darwin to stumble upon the great theory surrounding evolution in the mid 19th century.
During the Age of Enlightenment, wealthy Grand Tourists studied ancient art in Greece and Rome. But an understanding of natural science became of equal importance to the intelligentsia. Collectors filled scrap books with indigenous and foreign plants, all dried and pressed, as a record of their discoveries throughout Europe.
Seaweed studies such as these are particularly rare and this collection is in remarkable condition for its age. Most of the specimens retain a label detailing the species. They would once have lived within a bound volume, but are now mounted within faux bamboo frames to be enjoyed for their decorative qualities.
On The Sea
By John Keats
It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell.
When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody—
Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood,
Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!
You can see the collection at Timothy Langston Fine Art & Antiques on The Pimlico Road and also on our site timothylangston.com