Flora Illustrata: A Celebration of Botanical Masterworks
The renowned LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden counts among its holdings many of the most beautiful and pioneering botanical and horticultural works ever created. More than eight centuries of knowledge, from the twelfth century to the present, are represented in the Library’s Collection. In this sumptuous exhibition in the Art Gallery visitors were introduced to some of the Library’s most fascinating works—exceedingly rare books, stunning botanical artworks, illustrated manuscripts, medieval herbals, exquisite garden prints and flower books, nursery catalogs, explorers’ notebooks, and more.
The works displayed—some of which were on view here for the first time—express the creative effort of the world’s preeminent explorers, scientists, publishers, artists, and printmakers across the centuries, as bookmaking and the graphic arts developed in tandem with knowledge of natural history. Several themes recurred throughout this exhibition, notably the widespread exchange of botanical and horticultural knowledge; the historical progress leading to the improved identification and representation of plants; related new printing and publishing techniques; and the key role of artists, both men and women, in the advancement of botany. The range of works on display, from exquisite botanical artworks, manuscripts, herbals, and monumental garden prints to stunning flower books, nursery catalogs, and explorers’ notebooks, was intended to inspire in visitors a new appreciation for the extraordinary history of botany and its far-reaching connections to the worlds of science, books, art, and culture.
Susan M. Fraser
Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library
Vanessa Bezemer Sellers, Ph.D.
Humanities Institute Coordinator