Florigelia were popular in the seventeeth century. Often illustrated by eminent artists, the lavishly produced books catalogued the plants in a garden, or collected on an expedition. Who can afford to produce such a book today? A prince, of course. His Royal Highness, Prince Charles of Wales, who sponsored The Highgrove Florilegium, a collection of plants in the royal garden, and one of the most expensive books of modern times.
To look at a history of botanic illustration is to look at the changing significance of a plant over time. A new exhibit at Lotusland, in Montecito, California, does just this. Historic prints document these transitional periods—of plant as medical specimen, to exotic beauty, to garden delight—in a show titled "The Plant Hunters: Botanical Illustrations from the 16th to 19th Centuries," which runs through November 2.
A selection of historic botanical prints is on display at Lotusland in Santa Barbara, at a new exhibit (August 25-November 2) titled "The Plant Hunters: Botanical Illustrations from the 16th to 19th Centuries."
"Ellsworth Kelly Plant Drawings" is on view at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show spans sixty years of work, including his early sketches in 1940s Paris, his recent work in upstate New York, and everywhere in between. “Each drawing that I’ve done, I have found. Meaning, I see a plant I want to draw."
Before there was Instagram, there was the Claude glass—a small, tinted, convex mirror that was popular in the 18th century. Toted in artists' cases and tourists' pockets, the portable mirror offered a transformed view of the scenery that became popular with wealthy British vacationers—a world viewed through a Claude glass was a journey through ephemeral snapshots of softly-rendered nostalgia.
Painted from specimens in Kew's Herbarium, Rachel Pedder-Smith's Herbarium Specimen Painting is an 18-foot masterpiece of botanic illustration, and a tapestry with hundreds of narratives that depict a history of plant evolution and scientific discovery.
Written by French botanists who explored North American forests in the late 1700s, The North American Sylva is a monumental work with masterful illustrations and extensive botanic profiles. The book would help France reforest its post-war countryside, and become a landmark in North American forestry. Today, it remains readable and interesting—certainly a work of evergreen value.
A dual exhibition at Kew Botanical Gardens features Plants in Peril and Losing Paradise, showing illustrations of endangered plants through the world. The exhibition closes March 18, 2012, so go see it if you can!