Gardens in Perpetual Bloom: Botanical Illustration in Europe and America 1600-1850, by Nancy Keeler
Originally developed as an aid to professional herbalists, botanical illustration quickly blossomed into an art form in its own right.
The first flower books were intended as medicinal guides, or else illustrated volumes that catalogued the elaborate and extensive gardens of the well-to-do. But when Carl Linnaeus first classified the plant kingdom in 1735, the botanical book quickly took on a more scientific cast.
By the nineteenth century, the flourishing of botanical publications reflected both the rapid rise of gardening as an amateur hobby and the desire of artists and decorators for new visual resources.
Gardens in Perpetual Bloom: Botanical Illustration in Europe and America 1600–1850 traces the appreciation of flowers and their depiction, from the studious world of monks and princes to the era of the gardening enthusiast.
The book's 110 prints and drawings—which include masterful engravings by Georg Dionysus Ehret, the eighteenth century's most accomplished botanical artist, and hand-colored prints by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the premier draftsman of flowers for Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte—are remarkable for their technical virtuosity, delicate tonalities, scientific accuracy and seemingly infinite variety.
Gardens in Perpetual Bloom is both a valuable historical survey and an affordable, attractively designed volume of jewel-like beauty.