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Good Reads  Botany  Plants & Botany: General

The Beauty of the Flower The Art and Science of Botanical Illustration

Art / Photobook
By: Stephen A Harris(Author)
328 pages, 80 colour & 64 b/w illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
The Beauty of the Flower
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  • The Beauty of the Flower ISBN: 9781789147803 Hardback Oct 2023 In stock
Price: £24.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In a world flooded with images designed to create memories, validate perceptions and influence others, botanical illustration is about creating technically accurate depictions of plants. Reproductions of centuries-old botanical illustrations frequently adorn greetings cards, pottery and advertising, to promote heritage or generate income, yet their art is scientific: its purpose is to record, display and transmit scientific data. The Beauty of the Flower shows us how scientific botanical illustrations are collaborations among artists, scientists and publishers. It explores the evolution and interchanges of these illustrations since the mid-fifteenth century, the ways in which they have been used to communicate scientific ideas about plants and how views of botanical imagery change. Featuring unique images rarely seen outside of specialist literature this book reveals the fascinating stories behind these remarkable illustrations.


Chapter 1. Plant and Page
Chapter 2. Themes and Trends
Chapter 3. Science and Illustration
Chapter 4. Blood and Treasure
Chapter 5. Garden and Grove
Chapter 6. Inside and Out
Chapter 7. Habit and Habitat
Chapter 8. Observe and Test
Chapter 9. Sweat and Tears

Appendix: Plant Names
Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements

Customer Reviews


Stephen A. Harris is an Associate Professor of Plant Sciences and curator of the herbarium at the University of Oxford. His books include Sunflowers (Reaktion, 2018) and Roots to Seeds: 400 Years of Oxford Botany (2021).

Art / Photobook
By: Stephen A Harris(Author)
328 pages, 80 colour & 64 b/w illustrations
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Media reviews

"Visually stunning and astonishing in scope, Stephen Harris's The Beauty of the Flower is a history of botanical illustration that has all the makings of a classic reference text [...] The Beauty of the Flower will delight plant-lovers and scholars alike with its magnificent illustrations and captivating account of the history of botanical study."
Foreword Reviews

"This captivating and carefully researched book comprehensively examines the historical journey of botanical illustration through art and science. Using rarely seen images and with a deep understanding of his subject, Stephen Harris clearly demonstrates his passion for plants. We are fortunate that he has chosen to share his lifelong interest in botany, and its interpretation, with this book, which specialists and non-specialists alike will enjoy."
– Valerie Oxley, President, Institute for Analytical Plant Illustration and Chair, The Florilegium Society at Sheffield's Botanical Gardens

"The Beauty of the Flower twins a dazzling and well-chosen display of botanical illustrations with a cogent and readable analysis of the botanical exploration and science that led to it. Stephen Harris is uniquely well-placed to unpick the connections of art, science and publishing, and his book covers both familiar and unfamiliar ground over the last 500 years. It is generous in its coverage and will appeal to a broad range of readers, whether interested in plants, gardens, history, or the myriad links between them."
– Prof. Mark Nesbitt, Senior Research Leader – Interdisciplinary Research, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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