It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
An artistic-scientific discipline whose purpose is to synthesize and represent information so that it is able to be interpreted by a specific public. A scientific illustration must objectively and accurately represent the subject. It should not be confused with naturalistic or hyper-realistic illustration. [x]
used to illustrate floras, monographs, field guides and research papers. The boundaries between botanical art and botanical illustration are often indistinct, separated more by purpose than style. [x]
A utilitarian book that describes (and often illustrates) herbs and their culinary and medicinal properties. [x] Most ancient societies produced some form of herbals.
From the latin flos (flower) and legere (to gather), florilegium (plural: florilegia) translates literally to: "a gathering of flowers". [x] Florilegia differ from herbals in their emphasis on showing the pure beauty and color of each flower, rather than informing on its botanical and medicinal values. [x] The tend to contain very little to no text. (In other contexts this term is also used in a similar way to anthology)
A collection of preserved plants stored, catalogued, and arranged systematically for study. [x]
The plants of a particular region, habitat, or geological period. A book or other work detailing the plants of a particular region or habitat. [x]
What is Botanical Art and Illustration
Botanical illustrations are used to illustrate floras, monographs, field guides and research papers. The boundaries between botanical art and botanical illustration are often indistinct, separated more by purpose than style - botanical illustrations are primarily used to inform. [x]
This guide is for anyone interested in botanical illustration. It provides resources to various institutions and organizations(both collecting organizations as well as those supporting current artists), and introductory sources to various topics in the realm of botanical illustration. For those who are perhaps totally new to the topic definitions and a sampling of works are also provided.
I envision this guide being used in an institution who either collects botanical art or has an adjacent purpose (ie a garden or herbarium) such as the Arnold Arboretum. These types of institutions tend to have users with a wide range of interest level therefore this guide has been arranged in a way to hopefully suit the needs of both of various groups.
It should also be noted that this guide's scope is limited, mostly, to the western english-speaking world.
The BHL is a digital library providing open access to materials on the topic of biodiversity. Over 55 million pages of literature are available on the site as well as 100,000+ illustrations on their connected flickr account.
Founded in 2006 the library is run by a consortium of the top natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries in the world. Their primary goal is stated as "ensur[ing] that everyone, everywhere has the information and tools they need to study, explore and conserve life on Earth."
Part of the New York Public Library's Digital Collections, inspired by an exhibition an monograph of the same name this collection contains over a thousand images of "well-known and esoteric illustrated botanical plate books".
The "about tab" on the left-hand side of the page provides a further background of the collection as well as a useful look into the collection's highlights.
An encyclopedia of digitized historic botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library, which is one of the most "comprehensive libraries of botanical literature in the world."
A useful word-cloud of subject headings is provided and is a helpful starting place to begin searching the collection if you don't have a particular topic in mind.
A database of 4,389 botanical illustrations compiled by the Department of Botany in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It is searchable by scientific name, common name, family, medium, artist, collector, and collector year. High resolution images are available for many of the illustrations. While the database is best suited to those with a particular search in mind, drop down lists are provided for scientific name, artist, and medium and those can serve as a good starting place.
Containing "several million items, including books, botanical illustrations, photographs, letters and manuscripts, periodicals, biographies and maps." The library, art, and archives at Kew Gardens are one of the most significant botanical resources. Of particular note are the illustration collections of over 200,000 works, including the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and the Marianne North Gallery.
Please be aware that the Kew Gardens appear to be reorganizing their website and some content may not be available at this time.
A database of the Art Department at the Hunt Institute at Carnegie Melon, this collection consists of over 30,000 works of art and is "one of the world's largest and most broadly representative". While best navigated by those with specific interests in mind, casual searchers may find using the page numbers at the bottom of the search page to be useful in getting a sense of the collection
A subset of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation (linked above), this database collects the 7,000+ images that are in the public domain. Like the main collection, casual searchers may find using the page numbers at the bottom of the search page to be useful in getting a sense of the collection.
Part of JSTOR, Global Plants is a database featuring "two million high-resolution type specimens", as well as "partner-contributed reference works and primary sources, such as collectors’ correspondence and diaries, paintings, drawings, and photographs."
Part of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Arranged, arranged into various collections including contemporary and historical illustration, works made by Indian artists for made for Scottish East India Company, and illustrations made for teaching aids. Also included are photographs, garden plans, and direct image prints of specimens.
While these collections are not fully available online, finding guides are provided for some of them as well as detailed descriptions of the collections and select images.
This library holds more than 250,000 items and is comprised of books as well as botanical artwork, field books, photographs, and modern and historical maps. It is one of the most comprehensive libraries of botanical literature in the world. Botanicus (linked above) is run by the library.
Held in Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) this collection consists of over 7,000 botanical prints and drawing. While not fully online, subsets of the collection are available (and more can be found by searching "botanical" or "botany" in the search bar at the upper right.
Bigelow, Jacob, 1786-1879 (Artist)
From: American medical botany: being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured engravings
Cornut, Jacques Philippe (1606-1651) (Author)
From: Iac. Cornvti ... Canadensivm planatarvm, aliarumque nondum editarum historia. Cui adiectum ad calcem Enchiridion botanicvm parisiense, continens indicem plantarum, quae in pagis, siluis, pratis, et montosis iuxta Parisios locis nascuntur
Fitch, W. H. (Walter Hood) (1817-1892) (Engraver)
Hooker, Joseph Dalton, Sir (1817-1911) (Author)
From: Illustrations of Himalayan plants : chiefly selected from drawings made for the late J.F. Cathcart, Esq.re of the Bengal Civil Service