Botanical Treasures: The Art & Science of Flower Prints
March 31 – May 31, 2017
“The illustration stands as a substitute for the thing itself, which is ephemeral, fragile, and often unable to survive removal from its original environment.”
Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration, by Gill Saunders
Represented deep within the Philbrick Rare Book Room are several masterpieces of botanical illustration from the 18th century to the library’s latest acquisition published in the 21st century. Printing techniques from engraving to digital photography are portrayed through three important folios in the Natural History Collection including Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Curiosities (1734-1765), Victoria Regia (1854), and The Mexican Orchids of C.G. Pringle (2016).
To enhance the viewer’s experience, a selection of botanical specimens collected by Athenæum members in the 19th century will be on loan from the Brown University Herbarium. These plant specimens provide a visual reminder of what botanists collected and studied to document and illustrate the flower prints on display.
Salon: Botany at Brown: Past, Present, and Future with Tim Whitfeld, Collections Manager/Assistant Professor, Brown University Herbarium. March 31, 2017. Listen to a recording of the Salon here.
Essay: “Botanical Treasures: The Art & Science of Botanical Flower Prints,” Universal Penman
Further reading: Natural History Bibliography of the Providence Athenæum
Pictured: Joseph Dalton Hooker, The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya (London, 1849-51)