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Picturing Plants: An Analytical History of Botanical Illustration

By: Gill Saunders

154 pages, 160 col plates

University of Chicago Press

Hardback | Aug 2009 | Edition: 2 | #180739 | ISBN-13: 9780981773643
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NHBS Price: £49.99 $65/€57 approx

About this book

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.

Every page of this splendid book rewards the reader with new insights. - Bulletin of the History of Medicine "An excellent beginning point for those interested in botanical illustration as well as general readers interested in the art and photography of plants and professionals in the botanical and horticultural fields." - Choice"

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Gill Saunders is an art historian at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where she serves as the senior curator in the Word & Image Department. She is the author of, among other books, Sian Bown: Gaze, Prints Now: Directions and Definitions, and The Nude: A New Perspective, also available from KWS Publishers.

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