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Lilium nepalense is a native of the southern slopes of the Himalaya. Its natural habitat spreads from Northern Indian to Nepal and Bhutan, where it typically grows in wet forest borders. Each stem can grow up to 1m in height. This illustration was painted during the 19th century by an unkonwn artist who would have worked for the East India Company.
This particular art work has been painted in watercolour and the detail has been drawn in pencil. The dissections of the flower show that this work was probably made and used as a scientific tool, most likely as an identification aid.
The paper has two embossed stamps on it – one from the ‘Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’ and another from the ‘Secretary of State for India’. Written on the paper are several annotations, including ‘Lilium ochroleucum Wall.’, another name given to the plant which is no longer in use.
The word ‘Wall.’ refers to Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854). Wallich took great interest in the flora and natural vegetation of India, and was temporarily appointed Superintendent of the East India Company's Botanical Garden at Calcutta. Wallich also had an interest in Indian art and history. He was the first director of the Oriental Museum of the Asiatic Society, and employed several Indian artists.
Wallich most likely invented the name Lilium ochroleucum for this particular plant, not knowing that it had already been given the name of Lilium nepalense by David Don (1799-1841) in 1820.
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