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During the years 1803-15 he produced 12 sections or livraisons, each with a vignette of grapes and an exotic butterfly to the title and a selection of a dozen fine
watercolours of grapes heightened in gum arabic – one of which is shown right.

The Library of Congress and the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society hold odd livraisons from a broken copy, but the example offered by Christie’s on June 13 as part of the Beriah Botfield or Longleat library is thought to be the only complete surviving example. Bound as two volumes in contemporary green morocco gilt, it is probably the set that Payne & Foss of Pall Mall, the dealers who supplied many of Botfield’s books, were advertising for sale at £84 in an 1830 catalogue, but at King Street last month it reached £110,000.

Early in his career Kerner had published a series of academic works on trees, but in 1795 he embarked on a monumentally ambitious garden project, the Hortus
sempivirens, that by his death in 1815 had grown to 71 elephant folio volumes containing 851 watercolours. The only known set of this colossal work was
broken up in the 19th century, but parts occasionally turn up at auction – the last being in 1987 when Hartung & Hartung of Munich sold 38 watercolours (Pts. 53-55) for DM 48,000, then about £14,545.

A third work on melons, containing 34 watercolours, was issued in 1810 but no copy would now appear to be recorded.

Buyer’s premium: 19.5/10 per cent.