Whether to celebrate those plants Napoleon brought home from Egypt, or those collected by eminent botanists of the eighteenth century, a florilegium has rarely been a casual endeavor. The illustrated plant books were popular in the seventeenth century; today, those volumes remain important documents of art, science and history. Josephine Bonaparte commissioned a florigelium for her garden at Malmaison, filled with rare flowers acquired around the world. Sir Joseph Banks had one to catalogue the plants collected on Captain Cook's voyage around the globe.
"The object of this work is to trace in as perspicacious a manner as possible the philosophical principles of botany, from the earliest times, up to the present period, and by faithful and well executed engravings of the several subjects of the investigation, to render this curious and interesting inquiry level to everyone's comprehension."—Robert John Thornton