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The Art of Botanical Illustration highlights selections from the University of Delaware's Special Collections which show the development of botanical illustration from early printed books to the present day. The primary goal of botanical illustration is not art, but scientific accuracy. It must portray a plant with the precision and level of detail for it to be recognized and distinguished from another species.

The need for exactness differentiates botanical illustration from more general flower painting. Many great artists, from the seventeenth-century Dutch masters to the French Impressionists, such as Monet and Renoir, to modernists like Georgia O'Keeffe, portrayed flowers; but since their goal was aesthetic, accuracy was not always necessary or intended. In the hands of a talented botanical artist, however, the illustration goes beyond its scientific requirements and becomes a thing of beauty in its own right. The greatest of botanical illustrators such as Joseph Redouté are as renowned as other great master painters.

For further information on The Art of Botanical Illustration, see the Selected Bibliography or contact Special Collections
or by mail at:

Special Collections
University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267

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Last modified: 12/21/10
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