George Brookshaw’s splendid “Pomona Brittanica” is a masterpiece among 19th-century British flower books. The publication of the “Pomona” marked the re-emergence of the acclaimed artist into the public eye after a total disappearance of nearly a decade. A successful cabinetmaker with the patronage of the Prince of Wales, Brookshaw suddenly disappeared from view in the mid-1790's, and with the “Pomona” he not only trumpeted his return but demonstrated the skills he had acquired in a new metier: botanical art. Characterized by the highest standards of production and artistic quality, the superb illustrations that Brookshaw drew and engraved for the “Pomona” remain perhaps the most sumptuous and distinctive of the early 19th century.
The “Pomona” was first issued in parts from 1804-1808, the first complete edition being published in 1812 and dedicated to the Prince Regent. Many of the specimens were taken from the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court and Kensington Gardens, among other great British gardens. This magnificent and stylistically unique work took Brookshaw nearly ten years to produce. Rivaled only by Dr. Robert Thornton's “Temple of Flora,” Brookshaw's Pomona is considered to be the finest British botanical work from a time when England dominated the field with a very large number of great books.
Brookshaw's fine illustrations make excellent use of the rich, modulated tones that the aquatint process creates. The elegantly arranged and richly colored fruits emerge from unusual, deep brown backgrounds or float on a softly mottled light ground, creating a presence unlike that of any other botanical illustrations. Brookshaw asserts in the preface that the “Pomona Britannica” was an enduring work created for the enjoyment and edification of “succeeding generations.” The beauty and uniqueness of his illustrations guarantees the lasting value of this most exceptional work.