Art + Botany: 'Botanica Magnifica' Photography

Art + Botany: 'Botanica Magnifica' Photography

October 13, 2011
Photo by: Jonathan Singer

Botanists consider Jonathan Singer's Botanica Magnifica to be an invaluable series of endangered botanic profiles, many from deep within the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's private greenhouse; art critics review it as a masterful collection of plant portraits, photographed in low light with an effect that resembles the Old Masters of oil painting. 

Compiled in five volumes, the 250 photographs of rare and exotic plants is large in both format and impact. The original edition was limited to 10 copies, hand-bound and designed as a double elephant folio, measuring about 40 by 30 inches (a format that had not been used since Audubon's Birds of America). The book is also available in a comparatively smaller format through Abbeville Press ($135).  

Singer says he usually gets the picture with only one shot, on his color-perfect H2D-39 Hasselblad camera. He has been named a Hasselblad Award Laureate. The book includes historic, botanic, and geographic information about each plant, and an introduction by W. John Kress, a Curator of Botany and Research Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Anna Laurent is a writer and producer of educational botanical media. Photographs from her forthcoming field guide to Los Angeles are available for exhibition and purchase at the author's shop