Fabulous Flowers: Rare Books and Botanical Illustrations, 1491-1891

Organized by students in the Core II seminar “The Nature of Nature : Enlightenment Ideas about the Landscape,” the exhibition features illustrated books about botany, farming and herbal medicine. More than 30 volumes were selected by the students from the Rancho Santa Ana Special Collections Library and the Honnold Mudd Library Special Collections. The oldest volumes are herbals from 1491, showing how medicinal plants could be grown and used. Several herbals from the 16th and 17th centuries show how the knowledge of plants was transmitted and increased, due to global trade. Many 18th century volumes depict exotic plants newly introduced to Europe from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Two volumes document the voyages of Captain Cook to the South Pacific. Three volumes are by the famous botanic illustrator Pierre Joseph Redoute and feature lilies.

In addition to the many hand colored book illustrations, the exhibition also includes a 16th century French tapestry with floral designs, 19th century Japanese prints of flowers, and some of Miss Ellen Browning Scripps’ tea service with wild flowers painted on the porcelain plates.

For further information concerning this exhibition, please contact Professor Bruce Coats.