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'Making knowledge visible' is how one sixteenth-century naturalist described the work of the illustrator of botanical treatises. His words reflected the growing role played by illustrators at a time when the study of nature, as a product of the Renaissance, had been assuming new authority in the world of learning. An absorbing exploration of the relationship between image and text, this collection considers how both media aided the development and transmission of scientific knowledge.
Presenting images found throughout Europe in works on natural history, medicine, botany, horticulture and garden design, and studies of insects, birds, and animals, the contributors emphasize their artistic as well as scientific value. Illustrators are shown to have been both artists and either naturalists or gardeners, bringing to their work an aesthetic judgment and an empirical observation. Their fascinating images receive fresh, wide-ranging analysis which covers such topics as innovation, patronage, readership, reception, technologies of production, and the relationship between the fine arts and scientific depictions of nature.