Francis Bauer: the first botanical illustrator at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Today is the anniversary of the death of Francis (Franz) Bauer FRS FLS at the age of 82, on 11th December 1840.
Francis Bauer was born an Austrian. He was born in in Feldsberg in Lower Austria (now Valtice in the Czech Republic) on 14 March 1758. However he spent 50 years at Kew Gardens - illustrating plants.
He visited London in 1788 when he was 30 and met Sir Joseph Banks who had a passion for botany and was extremely pleased to meet Bauer - probably at his home at 32 Soho Square. He has by this time realised that finding a competent botanical painter was far more difficult than finding an engraver.
In 1789, Bank appointed Bauer as a natural history illustrator with an annual annuity for life of £300. Bauer subsequently settled permanently in Kew and became the first resident plant illustrator at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
His title was the 'Botanick Painter to His Majesty' for his work at Kew Gardens. A subsequent complication was that his paintings were owned by the crown which gave them to the British Museum! They're now in the Natural History Museum - with just one orchid painting at Kew! However the Natural History Museum has an excellent website where you can see many of them.
He is very well known for
Bauer was elected a Fellow of the Linnaean Society in 1804.
He was also nominated for election to Fellowship of the Royal Society on 29 June 1820, just a few days after the death of Banks. Subsequently he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society on 8 February 1821 - which meant he was now a member of the "inner circle of natural scientists in England" as Hans Walter Lack describes it.
You can READ MORE about him on my dedicated page about him About Francis (Franz) Bauer FRS, FLS (1758 - 1840) - which also includes books I recommend.
He died at Kew on 11 December 1840 at the age of 82. Ironically this came some six months after the botanical gardens at Kew transferred from the Crown to the state on 25 June 1840.
If you ever go to Kew Gardens, you can see the grand monumental wall tablet erected inside St Anne's on Kew Green, the Kew Parish Church where he was buried next to Zoffany and Gainsborough. It's midway down the left wall of the church - between the windows - as you stand at its entrance looking towards the alter. I visited recently as I knew it existed and had never seen it. I've yet to locate his grave in the churchyard where he is buried.
What I was surprised about is that the tablet is much bigger and grander than those afforded to the ones for William Hooker and his son Joseph Hooker who had both been Directors of Kew Gardens.
The tablet has
It's definitely worth a look if you should ever get to Kew.
(PS I was tickled pink to find that there are also a number of significant wall tablets for the Tyrrell family in the church - who have a side chapel all of their own!)
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world. You can also find her at linktr.ee
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