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  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1792 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ashton, Sarah (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Paper, printed, yew and sycamore

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Miss Mildred Davis.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

  • Physical description

    Folding fan; double paper leaf; etching, hand-coloured; sticks and guards of wood. The front leaf is etched with botanical drawings of the sexual anatomy of plants arranged according to Carl Linnaeus's (1707-77) classification. Each drawing is numbered with a Roman numeral and briefly described. The borders of the mount are printed with leaves of various types, with their names recorded alongside them. On the back of the mount there are two lists of the drawings on the front with botanical descriptions and examples of the plants that fall into this class. An image of a flower and a description of a flower's principal parts are printed between the lists, followed by a some lines of verse from 'The Botanick Garden', a poem written by Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802). The poem was published in two separate parts: Part II, 'The Loves of the Plants' in 1789, and Part I, 'The Economy of Vegetation' in 1792. The description of a flower's principal parts runs as follows: 'A Flower consists of the/ Calyx, Empalement or Cup. /Corolla, or Blossom ... Which is of one or more Petals. / Stamina, or Chives. / Pistilla or Pointals. / Pericarpium, or Seed-vessel. / Semina, or Seeds. / Nectarium, or Honey Cup. / Receptaculum, or Receptable'. The stanza quoted from 'The Botanick Garden' reads as follows: 'Come ye soft Sylphs, who fan the Paphian Groves,/ And bear on sportive wings the callow Loves,/ Call with sweet whisper, in each gale that blows,/ The slumbering Snow-drop from her long repose;/ Charm the pale primrose from her clay-cold bed, / Unveil the bashful Violet's tremulous head;/ While from her bud, the playful Tulip breaks,/ And young Carnations peek with blushing cheeks/ II Stanza 4 Canto Botanic Garden V.I'.

  • Marks and inscriptions

    Published as the Act directs July 21 1792, by Sarah Ashton, No. 28 Little Britain

  • Dimensions

    Height: 255 mm Open, Width: 475 mm Open

  • Object history note

    Sarah Ashton advertised 'The Botanick (sic) Fan' on 1 August 1792 in 'The Public Advertiser'.
    Erasmus Darwin's stated aim in writing 'The Botanick Garden' was to 'inlist the Imagination under the banner of Science', 'to induce the ingenious to cultivate the knowledge of Botany', and to introduce them to the 'immortal works of the celebrated Swedish naturalist Linnaeus'. Darwin's translation of Linnaeus's 'Systema Vegetabilium' and 'Genera Plantarum' had been published by the Lichfield Botanical Society (1782-5 and 1787). The fan would have appealed to the many female readers of 'The Botanic Garden'. Darwin supported female education. In 'A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools' (1794), written as advice to his two daughters, the Misses Parker, who had opened a school in Ashbourne in 1794, he recommended that the girls should learn botany, chemistry, mineralogy, and short hand, and should take plenty of outdoor exercise. (Information drawn from the Fitzwilliam Museum's on-line entry on M.225-1985.)

    Sarah Ashton was a prominent publisher of fan leaves in the late18th century from her business in Little Britain, near St. Martin's Court, Covent Garden. She was admitted in 1770 into The Worshipful Company of Fan Makers and carried on the printing business after her husband’s death.

    See also: E.3191-1938.

    RF number is 1915/3746.

  • Descriptive line

    Fan, paper mount printed with Carl Linnaeus's sexual system for the classification of plants, published by Sarah Ashton, London, 1792

  • Collection code

    Textiles and Fashion Collection