Drawing on the rarely seen archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum, “Picturing Plants” begins with some pressing questions: Throughout history, who has drawn plants, and why? And what do these images say about our relationship with the natural world? To answer, art historian Gill Saunders shares the story behind one hundred gorgeous works, from exquisitely detailed scientific illustrations to the boldly colored seed packets of today. Starting with a printed book from the fifteenth century, Saunders explores a remarkable selection of botanic art, including masterworks by Georg Dionysius Ehret and Pierre Joseph Redoute as well as superb illustrations by anonymous artists in China, India, and Japan.
Along the way, she makes insightful connections between botanical art, science, and culture. Plant illustrators, Saunders shows, found innovative ways to convey both a plant’s beauty and its use. For example, today, when we see a picture in which a plant is framed by white space, we simply assume that it is a convention of botanical illustration. But in the seventeenth century, the same arrangement reflected contemporary gardening practices – each plant was set in its own separate bed.
“Picturing Plants” captures both the complex cultural history and the distinctive loveliness of botanical illustration. This updated second edition will be a welcome addition to the shelves of art historians and avid gardeners.
Hardcover, Edition2, 160 pages, 160 col plates.