Published: 15/01/2017
ISBN: 9781788037969
Format: Hardback



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Casa Fontanalba’s Visitors’ Book
by Clarence Bicknell

Clarence Bicknell was an artist, author, traveller, botanist, archaeologist, pastor and humanist.
A facsimile album of rare beauty and cultural significance containing intricate and flowing flower paintings.
Clarence is considered one of the forgotten geniuses of 19th century science, arts and crafts.


Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) built in 1905 and 1906 the Casa Fontanalba, his summer home at Casterino in the mountains above Bordighera. The original Visitors’ Book, for which he completed the illustrations before its first use in 1906, has 60 cartridge paper pages and is bound in vellum with leather decorative stitch work. Every opening of the Visitors Book is illustrated by Clarence Bicknell with watercolours of flora of the region on the right page. The pages on the left were left empty so that guests who visited the Casa Fontanalba could sign their name and the date. He created this little masterpiece with its watercolour flowers framed with features of the flower’s petals, leaves and colours. Clarence died in 1918 when the book was only half full with about 320 visitors’ signatures. This list of visitors, including famous archaeologists, botanists, writers, Esperantists, soldiers and politicians, shows the wide range of Clarence’s interests and the company he kept.

This facsimile reproduction was printed as part of the 2018 programme of commemoration of the centenary of the death of Clarence Bicknell. This vellum-bound album is one of 12 done by Clarence and identified today in various collections including 7 given by Peter Bicknell to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University.

Clarence Bicknell’s principal passion was the study of botany and a love of flowers. As an artist he was truly versatile and worked in many mediums. In 1878, at the age of thirty six, he settled in Bordighera in Italy which was his home till he died forty years later.

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