Luxuriant Nature Smiling Round...
Herbals - Florilegia
Botanicals - Ornithology


Iris Major

Crispijn van de Passe (d. 1670). Hortus Floridus in quo rariorum & minus vulgarium florum icones ad vivam varamque formam accuratissime delineatae. Arnheim : apud Ioannem Ianssonium, 1614.

One of the earliest florilegia, the Hortus Floridus contains realistic and delicate prints created by Crispin van de Passe, a member of a famous family of Dutch artists. The book is divided into four sections, each corresponding with one of the seasons and prefaced with an engraving of a model garden. Most of the flowers shown are tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and other bulb plants, the new enthusiasm of the increasingly prosperous Dutch citizenry. Van de Passe's work both documented and stimulated the Dutch passion for bulbs, which eventually led to the 'tulipomania' of 1636-1637, when speculation in tulip bulbs led to a financial crash. Unlike earlier botanical works in which the plants were shown by themselves, van de Passe placed his specimens in a natural environment, often accompanied by insects and animals that provide a narrative element to the images. The ground level perspective of the illustrations reflects the tradition of Dutch landscape painting, characterized by atmospheric and panoramic views of the flat Dutch landscape set against a low horizon and dominated by a vast and expansive sky.

Crocus Byzantiam


Title Page


John Parkinson (1567-1650). Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestis, Or, A choise garden of all sorts of rarest flowers, with their nature, place of birth, time of flowring, names, and vertues to each plant, useful in physick, or admired for beauty . . . The second impression much corrected and enlarged. London: Printed by R. N. and are to be sold by Richard Thrale, 1656.

Paradisi in Sole was the first important gardening book produced in England. Parkinson, apothecary to both James I and Charles I of England, devoted the last thirty years of his life to tending his large garden outside of London. His book reflects the growing interest in gardening as a form of pleasure and recreation, and was intended to serve as a guide to beginners on how to lay out a garden, what plants to include, and how to care for and improve the plant stock. The title translated from Latin into English forms a pun on Parkinson's name: "Park in sun's earthly paradise." The title page showing Adam and Eve enjoying a cornucopia of pleasures in paradise reflects Parkinson's belief that each garden can be a miniature Eden. A small 'vegetable lamb' in the middle ground is a figure of folklore, said to spring directly from the ground on a stalk and feed on the nearby vegetation. Many of the illustrations of individual plants were copied from the works of others, particularly Crispin van de Passe and Mathias. The book first appeared in 1629. The Castle Collection copy is the second edition of 1656.

Crown Imperial


Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811). Flora Rossica; seu stirpium Imperii Rossici per European et Asian ingigenarum descriptiones et icones. Iussu et auspiciis Catharinae II, augustae, edidit P. S. Pallas. 2 volumes. St. Petersburg: J. J. Weitbrecht, 1784-1788.

In 1767 the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas was invited to teach at the St. Petersburg Academy of Science as part of Catherine the Great's effort to fashion herself as an enlightened ruler and bring Russia into the cultural life of the West. Catherine commissioned Pallas to catalogue the plants and animals native to Russia and sponsored his many expeditions to Siberia and other rarely-visited regions where he sought and collected new specimens. These expeditions won Pallas international fame and established him as a leading botanist. Pallas lived in Russia for the rest of his life, retiring eventually to Crimea where he lived on an estate given to him by Catherine. The title page of Flora Rossica, seen at left, pays homage to the patronage of Catherine, representing her in the guise of Athena, the benevolent Greek goddess of Wisdom and Justice. Resplendent in the usual accoutrements of the goddess, Catherine presents a book, presumably the Flora Rossica, to a group of plant-bearing cherubs. The hand-colored copper engravings are after drawings by F.K. Knappe, a member of the Russian Academy of Art.

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Title Page

Robert Furber (ca.1674-1756). The flower-garden display'd: in above four hundred curious representations of the most beautiful flowers, regularly dispos'd in the respective months of their blossom, curiously engrav'd on copper-plates from the designs of Mr. Furber, and others; and coloured to the life with the description and history of each plant, and the method of their culture. Second edition. London: Printed for R. Montague, 1734.

Robert Furber, the founder and gardener of Kensington Nurseries, produced this gardening manual in cooperation with Richard Bradley (1688-1732), a professor of botany at Cambridge University. The book is illustrated with twelve plates that are reduced versions from Furber's earlier Twelve Months of Flowers, a folio work that was conceived as a flower catalog. The flower-garden display'd is a smaller, less expensive version that was produced for the broader public. The book contains an illustration for each month showing a large bouquet of flowers with specimens appropriate for the season. Each flower is numbered and listed, followed by a brief description of its properties and advice on growing it.

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Ladies Slipper

The Compleat Florist. London: Printed for J. Duke, 1747.

This gardening guide by an anonymous author consists of 100 engraved and hand-colored plates. Produced for popular consumption, this collection of plants reflects the tastes current in Great Britain in the mid-eighteenth century. The book consists entirely of pictures of flowering plants, accompanied by brief notes with advice on cultivation. Although the book was mass-produced, few copies survived rough handling by avid gardeners.

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Title Page

rosa centifolia

Pierre Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). Les roses. 3 volumes. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1817-1824.

Redouté's most popular work, Les roses, was born of a project initiated by the Empress Josephine who in 1798 purchased Malmaison, an estate north of Paris, and began to assemble a collection of rare and foreign plants. She engaged Redouté to record the glories of her garden, including the collection of roses established in 1804. Published in three volumes from 1817 to 1824, Les Roses features 168 plates by Redouté that exemplify the technique of stipple engraving, a method that he learned from the Florentine engraver Francesco Bartolozzi. This method consists of stippling dots on a plate with a needle called the "roulette." Stipple engravings can produce subtle shading effects and, when printed in color and finished by hand, can imitate the effect of a watercolor. The pages shown here includes the plate printed in color, as well as an uncolored print.

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Rose Centifolia

Night-Blooming Cereus

Robert John Thornton (1768?-1837). The temple of Flora: or, Garden of nature, being picturesque botanical plates of the new illustration of the sexual system of Linnaeus. London: Printed for the publisher [i.e., the author], 1799

This product of the Romantic Age was originally intended as a tribute to Linnaeus, the inventor of the modern system for classifying plants. Instead, it is far better known as the most melodramatic of botanical books, featuring sensational flora set in exotic landscapes, coupled with nature poetry by Henry James Pye, Erasmus Darwin, and other writers of the age. Thornton is most famous for the striking landscapes in the background of the flower drawings, with scenes that he deemed most aesthetically appropriate to the subject. Thus the Nightblooming Cereus (at left) sways in the moonlight with the turret-clock pointing to midnight, the hour when the flower is in full bloom. The Mimosa (Calliandra grandiflora, at the right) is located in the mountains of Jamaica where it was first discovered, and is surrounded by hummingbirds native to that country. Thornton was a medical doctor and amateur botanist who devoted his considerable inheritance to the production of what was meant to be a grand three-volume work that would demonstrate British capability in both botany and the printing arts. He did the basic designs for the illustrations, but the actual paintings were done by Abraham Pether, Philip Reinagle, and several other British artists. In the end, the book found only a small market and Thornton was forced into bankruptcy.

The title of this exhibition, Luxuriant Nature smiling round, is from the poem by Dr. Shaw that accompanied the Mimosa plate.

mimosa large-flowering sensitive plant
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