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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.

2017-2018 Calendar & Courses

2017-2018 Calendar and Courses

Mass Hort Classes & Events

Wed Jan 24 @10:00AM - 04:00PM
Digital Photography: Capturing Botanic Images
Wed Jan 24 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Designing the Winter Landscape
Thu Jan 25 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
Landscaping and Planting Design
Tue Jan 30 @ 1:00PM - 05:00PM
Garden Designs to Bridge Culture and Time: A Garden History Symposium
Tue Jan 30 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Botany for the Home Gardener
Thu Feb 08 @ 6:30PM - 08:30PM
Fruit Trees: Maintenance and Propagation
Tue Feb 13 @10:00AM - 11:00AM
Hydroponic Tour: Little Leaf Farms
Thu Feb 22 @ 9:00AM - 04:00PM
Mass Hort's School Garden Conference: Growing for Experience
Mon Mar 05 @10:00AM - 11:30AM
Tour: Lyman Estate
Thu Mar 22 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Rev Up for Spring: Seed Sowing, Growing and More!
Thu Mar 29 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Vegetable Gardening: Planning, Preparing and Maintaining Your Victory Garden