Philip Rashleigh was born in Aldermanbury, London, in 1729, the son of a Member of Parliament and Cornish landowner. He attended Oxford but left without attaining a degree. He was elected a Member of Parliament himself in 1764, and continued to serve until the dissolution of the body in 1802; he was well respected there, and in his elder years was known as "the father of the House of Commons." Rashleigh is famous among mineral collectors for the superb collection of Cornish minerals he assembled, and for the two color-plate-illustrated volumes he published in 1797 and 1802 describing his collection.
Rashleigh began studying minerals at least as early as 1758 (when he was among the subscribers to William Borlase's Natural History of Cornwall), and had begun actively collecting Cornish minerals by 1765. By 1794, after three decades of collecting, his assemblage of over 4,000 mineral specimens was described as "rich and magnificent" in books, gazetteers and travel guides of the day. As early as 1791 he had been searching for "a good clever man to draw and color some of my minerals," and ultimately is said to have hired a prominent Cornish enamel painter, Henry Bone (1755-1834), to prepare the paintings for producing 33 engravings (to be hand-colored) illustrating 194 specimens. These were published in 1797 as Specimens of British Minerals, Selected from the Cabinet of Philip Rashleigh… He was not entirely satisfied with the results, however, and complained that "there is great difficulty in representing minerals on paper." Nevertheless, he engaged several artists to produce a second volume in 1802, with 21 hand-colored plates depicting 48 specimens. The artists included Rashleigh's sister Rachel (wife of mineral collector John Gould, a physician in Truro), a well-known watercolorist and geologist named Thomas Richard Underwood (1765-1836), and a London engraver named Thomas Medland (fl.1777-1833). Paintings for a third, never-published volume were prepared by Harriet Rashleigh, Miss F. Rashleigh, and James Sowerby. Philip Rashleigh died at his family home, Menabilly, in 1811; most of his collection and the original paintings of his minerals are preserved in the British Museum, London, and in the County Museum, Truro.
Jones, R. W. (1995) Philip Rashleigh and his Specimens of British Minerals (1797 and 1802). Mineralogical Record, 26, 77-84.
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Number of artworks found: 35 | Artworks being viewed: 33 to 35
||Liroconite from Huel Mutterel (left) and Huel Gorland, Cornwall|
Hand-colored engravings (1802) painted by Thomas Underwood and engraved by Thomas Medland, depicting a 3.5-inch and a 2.5-inch specimen (from the collection of Philip Rashleigh) actual size. Mineralogical Record Library.
||Galena from Derbyshire|
Hand-colored engravings (1802) painted by Thomas Underwood and engraved by Thomas Medland, depicting a 4.3-inch specimen (from the collection of Philip Rashleigh) actual size. Mineralogical Record Library.
||Galena with Marcasite from Derbyshire|
Hand-colored engravings (1802) painted by Thomas Underwood and engraved by Thomas Medland, depicting a 1.5-inch specimen (from the collection of Philip Rashleigh) actual size. Mineralogical Record Library.