Prince Rupert's (1619-1682) plate
The plants on this plate are primarily scramblers and climbers, including asparagus, brionies and passionflowers. Morison placed them together because they have more-or-less fleshy fruits; today we know that they are not closely related to each other.
This plate was sponsored by Rupert, prince and count palatine of the Rhine and duke of Cumberland (1619-1682). The prince played a prominent part in the Civil War, and was a Renaissance man in respect of art and sciences. He was an honorary founding member of the Royal Society but gave the fledgling Society more than social respectability. He contributed to its discussions and experiments in a wide range of fields from navigation and mechanics through military weapons design to perspective and the art of the mezzotint. He is best known for his association with Prince Rupert’s drops – tough glass tears made by dropping molten glass into water. Intact drops will resist a hammer; break the tail of the drop and they shatter. Despite his scientific achievements, Rupert does not appear to have had specific botanical interests. His association with the first plate in Morison’s new publication emphasised the ambition of the work, provided prestige for future sponsors and set the tone for the remaining volumes.