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Italian School, early 17th century

Hyacinth, Hyacinthus Orientalis L. c.1600-25

RCIN 919414

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The hyacinth was a mid-sixteenth-century introduction to Europe from the Ottoman Empire, and was first recorded growing in the botanic garden at Padua soon after its foundation in 1545. The example shown here is an early single-flowered specimen, with elongated stem and small bell-shaped blue flowers. The annotation that accompanies the watercolour refers to the classical myth in which a hyacinth sprang from Ajax’s blood at his death.