Some of the most ravishing images in the history of illustration have been those of plants. But who drew plants, and why? How have these images reflected our changing relationship with the natural world? This beautifully illustrated book explores the purpose and function of the whole range of botanical art, from early woodcut herbals and painted florilegia, botanical treatises and records of new discoveries, to gardening manuals, seed catalogs, and field guides for the amateur enthusiast. Gill Saunders complements the sumptuous illustrations with detailed captions and an informative text, making this a book for both specialist and lay reader.
Drawing on a rich archive of material in the Victoria and Albert Museum, much of it unpublished until now, Saunders presents works ranging from the fifteenth-century printed book to the art of contemporary illustrators. She includes acknowledged masters such as Ehret and Redouté as well as lesser-known examples from China, Japan, and India.
In addition to their intrinsic beauty, plant illustrations have mirrored the curious and fascinating relationship between art and science. The artist’s challenge has been to reconcile the often conflicting demands of those disciplines within a single image. Picturing Plants captures both this complex cultural history and the distinctive loveliness of botanical illustration, bringing a fresh approach to a perennially fascinating subject.