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Western Libraries

Botanical Illustration Resources: History of Botanical Illustration

A Selected Bibliography created for the 1999 Northwest Botanical Illustration Symposium (updated frequently) Compiled by Julene Sodt, of the Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA

History of Botanical Illustration

Audubon: Beyond Birds: Plant Portraits and Conservation Heritage of John James Audubon.  Ottawa: NRC Research Press, 2009.  (QL 31.A9 A92 2009)

Butler, Patricia.  Irish Botanical Illustrators & Floral Painters.  Woodbridge, Sufolk, England:  Antique Collector's Club, 2001.
        Describes the contribution of over 70 artists working in Ireland as well as abroad. Many illustrations, mostly in color.

Calmann, Gerta. Ehret, Flower Painter Extraordinary: an Illustrated Biography. Oxford: Phaidon, 1977.
        Illustrated study of the life and work of one of the finest of the 18th century botanical artists. 95 colored and black and white illustrations. 160 pages.

Desmond, Ray. Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists: Including Plant Collectors, Flower Painters, and Garden Designers. 2 nd ed. London: Taylor & Francis; Natural History Museum, 1994.
        This is the revised and updated version which includes 13,000 entries for flower painters and garden designers. This large work also provides further biographical references in books and periodicals. 825 pages.

Keeler, Nancy Boghossian. Gardens in Perpetual Bloom: Botanical Illiustration in Europe and America1600-1850. Boston:  MFA Publications, 2009. (QK 98.2 .K44 2009)

Lewis, Jan; Walter Hood Fitch, A Celebration. London: HMSO, 1991.
        Fitch, one of the most prolific botanical artists in history, published over 12,000 botanical drawings, especially in Curtis's Botanical Magazine. Lewis presents an essay on his achievements, as well as good examples of Fitch's work. Included are 74 color plates from paintings as well as other illustrations. 34 pages of text.

Mee, Margaret. Margaret Mee in Search of Flowers of the Amazon Forests: Diaries of an English Artist Reveal the Beauty of the Vanishing Rainforest. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Nonesuch Expeditions, 1988.  (QK 263.M44 1988)
        Portions of Margaret Mee’s diaries are arranged chronologically by expedition and illustrated with her paintings, sketches, and photographs taken on her expeditions. 302 pages.

Mills, Christopher, ed. The Botanical Treasury: Celebrating 40 of the World's Most Fascinating Plants through Historical Art and Manuscripts. Chicago: The university of Chicago Press, 2015.

North, Marianne. Recollections of a Happy Life: Being the Autobiography of Marianne North. Edited by Susan Morgan. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993.
        This is basically a facsimile reprint of the first volume of her memoirs, originally published in 1894. Included are vivid accounts of plant-hunting in Brazil and other travels in the tropics studying botany and painting. 374 pages.

North, Marianne. A Vision of Eden: The Life and Work of Marianne North . London: HMSO, 1993. 240 pages.
        Illustrated throughout in color with her paintings of tropical and exotic plants. This is an abridged version of the artist’s autobiography (above). 240 pages.

Smith, Beatrice Scheer. A Painted Herbarium: The Life and Art of Emily Hitchcock Terry. University of Minnesota Press, 1992.
        Terry was the first botanist to collect plants in Minnesota and the first known to have illustrated living plants from that state. This book gives a biographical sketch and reproduces a sampling of her artistic work. Her Minnesota years show an emphasis in painting flowering plants. 194 pages.

Stearn, William T.  John Lindley, 1799-1865: Gardener-botanist and Pioneer Orchidologist. Woodbridge, Suffolk:  Antique Collectors' Club in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, 1999.

Thomas, Graham Stuart.  The Complete Flower Paintings & Drawings of Graham Stuart Thomas, With an Essay and Notes by the Artist. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987.
        Perennials, shrubs, roses and other flowers are subjects of the artistic side of this famous gardening writer. The appendices include lists of his principal works, the plants he introduced or promoted, his writings and illustrations, books, journals, and hardiness zones in the US for the plants he illustrated. 194 pages.

The Herbal (History Con't)

The Herbal (History Continued)

Anderson, Frank J. An Illustrated History of the Herbals. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. (QK 99.A1.A5)
        This history of herbals (descriptive books about medicinal plants, their identification and use) is illustrated with 110 black and white pictures from the original herbals, together with background information about each work. 270 pages.

Arber, Agnes. Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution: A Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670. 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
        This scholarly study of the early evolution of printed herbals in Europe is a reprint of a science classic. 358 pages.

Bilimoff, Michele.  Promenade dans des Jardins Disparus:  Les Plantes au Moyen Age d'Apres les Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne.  Rennes;  Editions Ouest-France, 2001.
        French language.  Colored illustrations, 143 pages.

Collins, Minta, ed. A Medieval Herbal: A Facsimile of British Library Egerton MS 747. London: British Library, 2003. (Special Collections, Rare Book Collection, QK99 .A1 T7 Oversize).

         Facsimile of an Italian herbal, ca. 1300. It contains a vast corpus of information about plants and their medicinal uses, inherited from Greek, Roman, and Arabic sources, and is illustrated with over 400 botanical paintings.

Blunt, Wilfred, and Sandra Raphael. The Illustrated Herbal. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.  (QK 14.5.B57 1979 - Oversize)
        Two leading authorities give an account of the creation and decoration of Europe’s Herbals. Color illustrations (many previously unpublished) are taken from manuscripts and books chronicling human interest in the medicinal properties of plants. 191 pages.

Fuchs, Leonhart.  The New Herbal of 1543 = New KreuterbuchKöln: Taschen, 2016.
        German text with English introduction.  "Based on Leonhart Fuch's personal hand-coloured copy" - - - Verso of t.p. (Special Collections, Rare Book Collection, QK41 .F53)

Gerard, John. The Herbal: Or, General History of Plants. New York: Dover Publications, 1975.  (QK 41.G3 1974 - Oversize)
        First appearing in 1597, Gerard produced the most famous English herbal. This is the complete 1633 edition revised and enlarged by Thomas Johnson which corrected some of Gerard’s errors and replaced most of the pictures with woodcuts from the Plantin collection. Despite its botanical inaccuracies, The Herbal is of historical importance as a record of plants available to English gardens of the 12th century. 1678 pages.

Gordon, Lesley. A Country Herbal. New York: Mayflower Books, 1980. (SB 351 H5 G67 1980)
        "A comprehensive compendium of useful plants and the legends around them." The illustrations are taken from rare and ancient herbals. 208 pages.

Lambkin, Deborah.  The Virtues of Herbs of Master Jon Gardener. Dublin:  Strawberry Tree, 2002. 
         112 pages;  colored illustrations.