Hortus Nitidissimis
Johannes Seligmann

"West Indische rothe Lilie" plate 18
after Ehret's Amaryllis spatha multiflora...etc.

Here we find Amaryllis Belladonna Linn. listed as Amaryllis Mexicana dicta, and described as the "Lilii rubri" of the West Indies. This agrees with the descriptions in the various editions of Miller's Gardeners Dictionary, where the "Lilium Reginae" of Douglass was not consistently distinguished from the common Red Lily of the West Indies.

Jakob Trew, who provided the paintings for Hortus Nitidissimis, was a long-time patron of George Ehret, and corresponded with Peter Collinson, Hans Sloane and other botanists of the day. Collinson had written to Trew (1746) that this was the plant described Sloane in his Catalog of the Plants of Jamaica. Trew had little do with the publication, which was handled by G. L. Huth (1705-1761).

Publication of the work was delayed by the Seven Years War (1756-1763), and Seligmann died in 1762, having completed 43 plates, presumably including this plate 18.

Seligmann's engraving was based on an original by George Ehret, whose very similar watercolor sketch was labeled "Amaryllis spatha multiflora, corollis campanulatis aequalibus, genitalibus declinatis Linn. h. Cliff." Linnaeus had referred Merian's "Lilium Rubrum" to the same species.

Linné the Younger based his Amaryllis reginae on this plate, rather than on his father's Amaryllis reginae, which was distinguished by undulated tepal margins and lack of a bend at the base.


"Belladonna" plate 12 - ca 1753-4
after Ehret's misnamed Lilio-narcissus Americanus Belladona dictus, par. bat.

This version of George Ehret's famous Cape Belladonna was engraved by Seligmann and printed in his Hortus Nitidissimus as "Lilio-narcissus Belladonna". Seligmann died in 1762, but this plate was probably published during his lifetime.

Jakob Trew, who provided the paintings for Hortus Nitidissimis, was a long-time patron of George Ehret, and corresponded with Peter Collinson, Hans Sloane and other botanists of the day. His name appeared prominently on the title page, but had little to do with the publication, which was handled by G. L. Huth (1705-1761).

The name "Belladonna" does not refer to the Amaryllis Belladonna of Linnaeus, which Seligmann later engraved as the "West Indische rothe Lilie." Rather, Seligmann based his engraving on Ehret's "Lilio-narcissus Americanus Belladonna dictus, par. bat.", which was doubly misnamed. The "par. bat." is the Paradisus Batavus (1698) of Paul Hermann, though he used the name "Lilium Americanum..." was referring to the West Indies Red Lily.

Linné the Younger based his Amaryllis Belladonna on this plate, rather than on his father's Amaryllis Belladonna, which was the American plant.


"Incarnatus" plate 87
A. L. Wirsing, 1771

This plate was published in Hort. Nitid. without description. It appears to be a form of Cape Belladonna, but cannot be positively identified.

Many of the plates in Hort. Nitid. were based on paintings in Trew's collection. Whether the date on the plate refers to the original painting or to the engraving date must be established.

In 1731, Philip Miller reported that the Belladonna lily imported from Portugal seldom had more than 3 or 4 flowers on a stalk as grown in England. He called it "Lilio-Narcissus; Indicus, flore incarnato, lineis albis striato, odorato", which may agree with the plant illustrated here. By 1744, however, Ehret painted a Belladonna lily with far more than 4 flowers. Apparently Miller had already learned how to grow Belladonnas in the open ground near a wall. He published this method in the 1750s. If the plant in this picture represented the common Belladonna lily it may have been an early work, or based on a plant raised in Germany from an imported bulb.

This plate shows the deepening blush of the aging flowers which, according to Ferrari, inspired the name "flos pudoris", or Bashful flower.

Seligmann, the nominal author of the work, died in 1762, and the publication was taken over by another firm. Classical scholar and linguist, C. G. von Murr (1733-1811) wrote the text, borrowing heavily from Philip Miller's Gardeners Dictionary.