Robert John Thornton (1768–1837) was an English physician with a great interest to natural history. Lucky enough, he inherited a considerable fortune which allowed him to devote his life to his passion – the botany. Thornton invested his money in producing his dream – a magnificent book of illustrations of the Linnean sysem of classification
He collaborated with artists like Peter Henderson, Philip Reinagle, Abraham Pether and Sydenham Edwards and insisted that they should set the plants in the full splendour of their natural habitat.
The initial plan was to publish seventy beautiful coloured illustrations with text but unfortunately it turned out too expensive and the profits insufficient to cover them. Finally only thirty-three coloured plates, engraved in aquatint, stipple and line were produced but yet enough to be considered as one of the most gorgeous fine flower-book prized by collectors worldwide.