Francis I of Austria, the last monarch to rule over the Holy Roman Empire, was obsessed with flowers. His imperial gardens, where he realized his passion for flowers, remain one of Vienna's most beloved treasures. In 1791, Francis I commissioned Matthias Schmutzer to paint portraits of every flower in the garden-a project that took more than three decades to complete. Until now, only six of the extant 1300 paintings have ever been published. This collection features 120 of the most outstanding of Schmutzer's watercolors. Painted life-size and with extraordinary precision, the flowers range from the exotic to the common. A fascinating text offers biographical information about Francis I, descriptions of the imperial gardens in the ruler's time, and photographs of how they appear today. A significant contribution to horticultural history, this unique and beautifully presented book will delight lovers of botanical art and European culture alike.