Beauty and the Botanicals November 25, 2014 – Posted in: Content, Exhibits, Illustration – Tags: , , ,

Cover of Flora Illustrated

The LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden houses one of the greatest collections of botanical and horticultural works on the planet.

Eight centuries of  rare books, stunning botanical artworks, illustrated manuscripts, medieval herbals, exquisite garden prints and flower books, nursery catalogs, explorers’ notebooks, and more are contained within.

Aroid Anthurium gladiifolium SchottFirst printed illustration of Anthrium gladifolium. Colored lithograph based on W. Liepoldt, 1879

American Bog PlantsAmerican Bog Plants. Aquatint with additional hand coloring by Thomas Sutherland from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora, 1807

Flora Illustrata exhibit


To commemorate the treasures contained in the library an exhibition Flora Illustrata is underway featuring more than 50 books and objects including a first edition of Carolus Linnaeusʼ Systema Naturae, the book which single-handedly ushered in the modern era for the plant sciences. A beautiful monograph has also been published in association with Yale University Press.

“From the rare, illuminated pages of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis historia (1483), to the earliest book ever published on American insects (1797), to lovely etchings of the water gardens at Villa Pratolino in Florence (1600s), the Mertz Library holdings will inspire in readers a new appreciation for the extraordinary history of botany and its far-reaching connections to the worlds of science, books, art, and culture.”

Buy: Yale | Amazon 



Mandragore or MandrakeMandragore or Mandrake. Hand-colored engraving by Nicolas Robert  from Recueil des plantes by Denis Dodart,  1701

West Indies Lily ThornFrom The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands by Mark Catesby, 1731-1743


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