Botanical Sketchbooks, a new book by Helen and William Bynum, collects some of the best drawings of the world's flora dating back to the 15th century.
In the days before photography, naturalists relied heavily on sketches. Centuries ago, as European exploration began reaching farther afield and bringing back completely unfamiliar specimens, illustrations helped adventurers, scientists, and artists understand previously unknown worlds, a practice that extended into Darwin’s time.
A new book of illustrations from Princeton Architectural Press, Botanical Sketchbooks, explores how artists have recorded the plant world since the 15th century by looking at their early drafts and simple illustrations. Here are six timeless sketches from the book.
Magnificent Crinum crassicaule, Thomas Baines © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Landscape of Ootacamund, Edward Lear. Courtesy Houghton Library, Havard University, Cambridge, M.A.
Hymenocardia mollis (left), Phialodiscus unijugatus (right). Helen Faulkner © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Walter Hood Fitch, a prolific botanical artist, pioneered the craft of using lithography in illustrations while working at London's Kew Gardens in the 19th century. By the time he died in 1892, he had published 12,000 botanical illustrations in total, and created many more unpublished works that are still held at Kew.
You can find Botanical Sketchbooks for $27 on Amazon.
All images courtesy Princeton Architectural Press