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Great Flower Books 1700-1900

Great Flower Books 1700 —1900One’s initial reaction to this book is “Oh, coffee table”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it is in a large format, and it does have wonderful colored pictures, but there the resemblance stops.

Great Flower Books 1700 —1900One’s initial reaction to this book is “Oh, coffee table”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it is in a large format, and it does have wonderful colored pictures, but there the resemblance stops. Sitwell may have been a poet, but Wilfrid Blunt was a pre-eminent art historian, author of a history of Kew Gardens among other things. Their associates in this endeavor were also very serious.

This book was originally published in 1956. Its purpose was to offer guidance to collectors and those wishing to learn more about the history of horticulture through art. The editors have made slight revisions and incorporated a few more pieces of information to cover the thirty-five year gap. It is not their fault if the subject matter is divine!

In less than two hundred pages, there are more than fifty colored plates, reproduced from the original paintings with great fidelity. The eighteenth century illustrators worked from a copper engraving and colored the prints by hand. Later in the nineteenth century, lithography replaced the copper engraving, but printing in color was still far off.

Probably the most famous of all flower painters was Pierre Joseph Redouté. He is represented in this volume by five plates, There are also nineteen entries for Redouté’s works in the bibliography. He rose from dire poverty to work for Marie Antoinette.

Maria Sybilla Merian, a Dutch woman who painted in the Surinam jungle with her daughter Dorothea in the 1690s, was primarily interested in insects. Some readers may recall that her pictures of flowers were used for US postage stamps about five years ago.

Three hundred years later, the Englishwoman Margaret Mee traveled to the same territory in her eighties and sent back work of surpassing beauty and fidelity to nature.

Georg Dionys Ehret was another eighteenth century master. He began as a gardener in Heidelberg, but ended as a protégé of the Duchess of Portland in England, for whom ‘Portland’ roses were named.

All this artistic effort was stimulated by the arrival of one extraordinarily beautiful plant after another in England and the Continent, starting in the late seventeenth century. People do not realize that the native English flora was somewhat sparse. With travel across the Turkish Empire and the opening of the Americas, this changed radically. The plants we take for granted such as lilac, tulips, and carnations for example, were all imported from the Mediterranean regions

Great Flower Books 1700 —1900
A Bibliographical Record of Two Centuries of Finely-illustrated Flower Books

Sachaverell Sitwell
New York, The Atlantic Monthly Press - 1990

 

Review by Judith M. Taylor, M. D.
www.horthistoria.com
The San Francisco Garden Club
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About the Massachusetts Horticultural Society

Mass Hort logo newFounded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

2018 Calendar & Courses

2018 Masshort Courses

Mass Hort Classes & Events

Sat Apr 21 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Grafting Fruit Trees
Tue Apr 24 @ 9:00AM - 12:00PM
Improve Your Watercolor Skills - Morning Course
Tue Apr 24 @12:30PM - 03:30PM
Improve Your Watercolor Skills - Afternoon Course
Thu Apr 26 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Landscaping and Planting Design
Thu May 03 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Foodscaping
Sun May 06 @10:30AM - 12:00PM
Early Season Gardening Workshop
Thu May 17 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Greenhouse Growing
Tue May 22 @ 1:00PM - 05:00PM
Landscaping for Watershed Health
Wed May 30 @ 9:00AM - 03:00PM
Spring Landscape Tour
Wed Jun 06 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
Hands-On Floral Design
Thu Jun 07 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Bio-control of Lily Leaf Beetles
Tue Jun 12 @ 1:00PM - 04:30PM
Eco Printing: Fiber art workshop
Tue Jun 26 @10:30AM - 12:00PM
Explore the Teaching Herb Garden
Wed Jul 11 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
The Art of Planting Design
Wed Jul 18 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Summer Stroll: Garden tour
Sun Jul 22 @10:30AM - 12:00PM
What's Buggin' Me?
Sat Aug 04 @10:30AM - 12:00PM
Fall Planting Workshop
Thu Aug 09 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
A Summer Stroll: Garden Tour
Sun Aug 12 @10:00AM - 04:00PM
Meditations in Ink with Bruce Iverson