Green cloth and decorative fern and floral gold-tooled bindings charmingly reflect the subject of each work.
Zachary James Edwards. The Ferns of the Axe and Its Tributaries: Also of Lyme, Charmouth, Uplyme, and Monkton Wyld, with an Account of the Flower Lobelia urens, Found Wild Near Axminster, and Nowhere Else in Great Britain. London: Hamilton, Adams, 1862.
The River Axe flows through Dorset, Somerset and Devon. This learned text is illustrated with detailed black-and-white drawings (unattributed), as well as selections from English and Latin poetry.
Anne Pratt (1806-1893). The Flowering Plants, Grasses, Sedges, and Ferns of Great Britain, and Their Allies the Club Mosses, Pepperworts, and Horsetails. 6 volumes. (Binder’s ticket on rear pastedown: Burn & Co.) London: Frederick Warne, 1873.
Anne Pratt was among the best known botanical illustrators of the Victorian period. Her numerous works on botany and ornithology are illustrated with chromolithographs, on which she collaborated with engraver William Dickes. The Flowering Plants, Grasses, Sedges, and Ferns of Great Britain was perhaps the most widely-used study of English wild flowers for half a century.
The pocket-sized King Penguin books series, published between 1939 and 1959, were Penguin’s first volumes with hard covers and their first with color printing. They focused on specialized subjects, combining color plates with a scholarly text often written by experts in the field. A distinctive feature of the series is their decorative covers.
John Gilmour (1906-1986). Wild Flowers of the Chalk. Colour plates by Irene Hawkins. Cover design by William Grimmond. London: The King Penguin Books, 1947.
Edward James Salisbury (1886-1978). Flowers of the Woods. Cover design by Rosemary and Clifford Ellis. London: The King Penguin Books published by Penguin Books, 1946.
Paul W. Richards (1908-1995). A Book of Mosses. With16 plates from Johannes Hedwig’s Descriptio muscorum. Cover design by Paxton Chadwick. London: Penguin Books, 1950.
Jackson’s collection includes many local field guides for the amateur and specialist alike.
A.A. Forsyth. British Poisonous Plants. Cover by Sanders Phillips & Co. (Great Britain. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Bulletin no. 161) London: H.M.S.O., 1954.
Forsyth includes suggestions for first-aid treatment and simple remedies. The many photographs show plants growing in their natural habitat, but most striking is the bosky cover.
Mervin F. Roberts. Tidal Marshes of Connecticut: A Primer of Wetland Plants. Designed and illustrated by Mary Lohmann. (Connecticut Arboretum. Reprint series, no. 1) New London, Conn.: Connecticut Arboretum, 1971.
Illustrated with simple line drawings, this introduction to the ecology of tidal marshes aimed to promote awareness and concern for the protection of natural resources.
Ella Reitsma. Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science. Amsterdam: Rembrandt House Museum. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.
Artist and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) studied miniature flower painting with her stepfather, the Dutch still-life painter Jacob Marrel. Her 3-volume New Book of Flowers (1675-80) served as a model book for artists, embroiderers and cabinet makers. A pioneer in the field of entomological illustration, Merian was fascinated with the insect world at a time when it was widely believe that insects reproduced by spontaneous generation from dirt and mud. By age 13 she had already observed the metamorphosis of a silkworm, nearly a decade before any published accounts appeared, and was the first person to draw insects with the specific plants on which they fed. Her 2-volume work, The Caterpillar, Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food (1679-1683), describes the colors, forms and timing of each stage of growth.
In 1699 Merian traveled with her younger daughter, Dorothea Maria, to Suriname, whose tropical jungle swarmed with many new species to study and illustrate, including amphibians and reptiles as well as insects. The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname (1705) was her most important work. Among her significant contributions to the field of entomology is recognition of the importance of studying an animal’s habitat no less than its anatomy and life cycle.
Lois E. Jackson. Polypodium vulgare.
From a notebook of pen and ink botanical drawings executed by Lois E. Jackson, CLA ’63, for her botany classes at Drew University. The collection of botanical books which she has donated to the Drew Library honors Professor of Botany Robert Zuck.
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). The Floral Art of Pierre-Joseph Redouté. London: Frances Lincoln in Association with the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science and Kimbell Art Museum, 2002.
Called “The Raphael of flowers,” Pierre-Joseph Redouté was one of the greatest botanical illustrators and flower painters of all time. At age 13 he became an itinerant portrait painter, working in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg before settling in Paris. There he flourished under the tutelage of Dutch painter Gerard van Spaendonck, Professor of Botanic Painting at the French National Museum of Natural History, who appointed Redouté draughtsman at the Museum, and famed botanist Charles L’Heritier, who taught him the fundamentals of plant anatomy and introduced him into the inner circle of the French royal court. Redouté became Marie Antoinette’s personal teacher, chief flower painter and tutor to her children. After the Revolution, he gained the patronage of Empress Joséphine, who had created a magnificent garden of exotic plants with the intention of documenting each plant scientifically. The many resulting volumes included Redouté’s Jardin de Malmaison (1803-1805) and Les Lilacees (1802-1816), as well as his acclaimed Les Roses (1817-1824, illustrating the 250 varieties of roses in Joséphine’s garden. He later became a professor of plant iconography at the French National Museum of Natural History, and royal flower painter to Queen Marie Amélie, wife of the last king of France.
It has been remarked that Redouté not only survived but flourished during one of France’s most politically turbulent periods. One of his biographers noted that Redouté’s immortality rested on the fact that throughout the years he remained faithful to one queen who never went out of fashion: the rose.
[Bartram and McEwen on either side with Monardes in the center.]
William Bartram (1739-1823). Botanical and Zoological Drawings, 1756-1788. Reproduced from the Fothergill Album in the British Museum (Natural History). Edited with an introduction and commentary by Joseph Ewan. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1968.
William Bartram was the first native-born American artist-naturalist, and the first author in the modern genre of writers to depict nature through personal experience as well as scientific observation. His father, horticulturist and explorer John Bartram (1699-1777), founded Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia, the oldest surviving botanical garden in the United States, and established an international trade in North American plants. By his early teens, William was traveling with John, drawing plant and bird specimens that drew praise from the English naturalist William Collinson.
This collection of drawings of plants and animals—gathered in an album now at the British Museum (Natural History)--were executed for William Bartram’s patron, the English Quaker physician and botanist John Fothergill, and for Robert Barclay, a London brewer and co-founder of the Linnaean Society. Fothergill supported Bartram’s travels in the southeast in return for specimens, drawings and a journal of his observations, published in 1791 as Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida. Travels quickly became an American classic and was translated into several European languages. Particularly compelling were Bartram’s accounts of the Seminole, Creek and Cherokee Indians. His imagery influenced the British Romantic poets and armchair travelers alike. In the 1830’s John James Audubon even credited Bartram’s “flowery sayings” with helping to popularize Florida for settlement.
Nicolás Monardes (ca. 1493-1588). Delle Cose che Vengono Portate dall’Indie Occidentali Pertinenti all’Uso della Medicina. Venice: Printed by Francesco Ziletti, 1582. Italian translation of Historia Medicinal de las Cosas que si Traen de Nuestras Indias Occidentales (1565-1574).
Although Spanish physician and botanist Nicolás Monardes never went to America, this influential work publicized many of the newly discovered medicinal plants that entered his native city of Seville, the center of trade and commerce between Spain and the New World. Monardes established a botanical garden in Seville, where he cultivated the new drugs and studied their effects. Historia Medicinal includes perhaps the first medical study of tobacco, which Monardes celebrates for its “marvelous medicinal virtues.” His list of several dozen ailments that tobacco proved effective in treating includes toothache, knife wounds, hunger and thirst, lockjaw and cancer.
The genus Monarda, named for Monardes and known commonly as bee balm, includes more than a dozen species of flowering plants in the mint family.
Rory McEwen (1932-1982). “Sam Barlow” tulip. Number 2 in an edition of 500 copies, signed by the artist. From Wilfrid Blunt. Tulips & Tulipomania: With sixteen plates from paintings by Rory McEwen. London: The Basilisk Press, 1977.
Rory McEwen was a student of Wilfrid Blunt (himself an eminent historian of botanical art) at Eton College, where he twice won the School Drawing Prize. During his twenties, folk music and the guitar exerted as strong an allure as art, resulting in two theses at Cambridge University, one on French botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté, and a second on American folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly. In 1956 McEwen traveled in the United States, where he moved into the world of folk music and jazz and appeared twice on the Ed Sullivan Show. Later, he hosted a folk and blues program for the BBC. By the early 1960’s, though, he gave up music to concentrate on painting, which he had continued to pursue throughout.
McEwen has been called the most influential botanical artist of his generation. He opened the door to a more experimental depiction of plants by portraying the natural world from the perspective of a 20th century modernist. His images recall photo-realist painting and pop art. McEwen worked largely in watercolor on vellum to produce “a kind of translucent brilliance which … achieves a vitality beyond mere illustration.” His “plant portraits,” executed in minute detail and without shadows, seem to float on their large backgrounds. The “Sam Barlow” tulip pictured here pertains to the category of English tulips known as “Bizarre,” characterized by a yellow base and rich red or brown striping. It was bred in the 1860’s by Derby train engineer and “tulip maniac” Tom Storer, owner of Victorian England’s greatest tulip collection.