Art of Botanical Illustration
Linnaeus (1707-1778) , the Swedish botanist and explorer revolutionized
botany and its illustration. His works, culminating in his Species
plantarum of 1753 established a new system for organizing and naming
plants. The Linnaean system arranged the plant world by a classification
system based on the sexual parts of the flower. The characteristics of
the flower defined the genus; this was supplemented by other aspects of
morphology, such as leaves, to determine the species. The system also
standardized the part name, genus and species. This system simplified
the scientific dialog about the thousands of new plants being discovered
around the world.
Linnaean system also changed botanical illustration. The focus of the
illustrations shifted from the whole plant to the flower alone or the
flower and fruit. It reduced the amount of information that it was felt
was necessary to include in a botanical drawing. The flower was more likely
now to be shown close up with each stamen and pistil distinct. This contrasts
sharply with the early works attention to the plant as a whole, showing
roots, stems, and seeds.
Eden, or, A compleat body of gardening: containing plain and
familiar directions for the raising the several useful products
of a garden, fruits, roots, and herbage... London, Printed for
T. Osborne..., 1757.
only one interest of John Hill, who worked as an actor and pharmacist
and wrote numerous novels, plays, and books on theology and naval
history. Hill is famous for introducing the Linnean system of botanical
nomenclature to England. Eden is arranged as a calendar to guide
the gardener week by week in the care of the garden. The illustrations
for Eden were primarily copied from earlier works including Hortus
Floridus and Paradisi in sole.
William Curtis (1746-1799)
Flora Londinensis... London: Printed for and sold by the author, 1777-98
Trained as a pharmacist,
William Curtis was Director of Gardens at the Chelsea garden of the Society
of Apothecaries. In 1777, Curtis published the first part of Flora
Londinensis which was intended to show all of the plants growing in
a ten-mile radius of London. The project took ten years and was not financially
successful. Among the artists Curtis worked with were William Kilburn,
James Sowerby, and Sydenham Teast Williams. Sowerby and Williams became
major artists in the botanical field; Sowerby as author of English
Botany and Williams as one of the major contributors to the Botanical
L'Heritier de Brutelle, 1746-1800.
Stirpes, novae, aut minus cognitae, quas descriptionbus et iconibus.
Parisiis, ex typographia Philippi-Dionysii Pierres, 1784-85.
This is the
first major book to which Redouté contributed illustrations.
L'Heritier, a wealthy amateur botanist, gave the twenty-five year
old artist his first commission and taught him the techniques of
dissection and the details of plant anatomy. The plates show some
of the stylistic elements Redouté would continue to use,
such as having the flowers continue outside of the page border and
using shadows to create a three-dimentional effect.
Pomona Britannica; or, A collection of the most esteemed fruits
at present cultivated in Great Britain. London: Printed by Bensley
and son for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817.
is considered to be the finest work of its kind, containing two
hundred and fifty-six kinds of fruit. The work, which took ten years
to complete, originally cost almost six pounds, a huge sum in 1817.
Les Roses. Paris: C. L. F. Panckoucke, 1824.
Redouté, considered by many to be history's greatest botanical illustrator,
was trained as a painter by his father and schooled in the great
Dutch flower painting tradition. He studied botany at the Paris
Museum of Natural History, where his talent was soon discovered
by one of his professors, L'Héritier de Brutelle, who employed the
young Redouté to work on illustrations for his own books. Other
patrons soon discovered Redouté's talents, including Queen Marie
Antoinette and the Empress Josephine.
his patron the Empress Josephine, Les Roses includes many of the
roses from Malmaison, Josephine's residence in Paris. The plates
are produced by stipple engraving, a pointillist technique, in which
images are conveyed by a series of etched dots and the open space
between them, rather than by a series of lines. Redouté claimed
to have invented the process of using stipple engraving to print
multiple colors on a single plate in 1796 - a claim which was upheld
in the French courts and earned him a medal from King Louis XVIII.
The technique allowed Redouté to achieve a subtlety of color and
shading almost equal to those in his original paintings. Gift of
Richard S. Hutton.
The British Flower Garden : containing coloured figures & descriptions
of the most ornamental & curious hardy herbaceous plants ... by
Robert Sweet ; the drawings by E.D. Smith. London: Published
for the author by W. Simpkin and R. Marshall, 1823-1829.
was a horticulturalist, who worked at several English plant nurseries
and produced several botanical books. He became notorious, however,
when he was charged with receiving a box of plants stolen from the
royal gardens at Kew. He was acquitted after a well-publicized trial.
M. Hovey, 1810-1887.
The Fruits of America: containing richly colored figures, and full
descriptions of all the choicest varieties cultivated in the United
States. Boston, C.C. Little & J. Brown, and Hovey, 1851-1856.
Charles Hovey was a nurseryman and seed merchant as well as a successful
journalist. He was born and lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Early
he began to collect and exhibit many cultivars of pear, apple, plum,
and grape. He was also interested in florist and ornamental plants,
particularly the Camellia and Chrysanthemum. These were exhibited
at the shows of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. He developed
the Hovey strawberry which first fruited in 1836 and which has been
considered as the starting point of American strawberry production.
It was the standard cultivar for many years.
Ladies' Botany; or, A familiar introduction to the study of the
natural system of botany.. London: H. G. Bohn, 1865.
Lindley was a famous botanist and horticulturist and became Professor
of Botany in University College, London. He also became Assistant
Librarian to Sir Joseph Banks, who was also a famous botanist of the
19th Century. He organized the first successful flower show of the
Royal Horticultural Society in London in the late 1830's.
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Last modified: 12/21/10