Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Book review: Treasures of Botanical Art

Treasures of Botanical Artby Shirley Sherwood and Martyn Rix
published by Kew Publishing

Title: Treasures of Botanical Art: Icons from the Shirley Sherwood and Kew Collections (USA/paperback)Links to:
Synopsis: Written by two experts in botanical art and published as the catalogue of the inaugural exhibition of the The Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, the first gallery in the world to be dedicated to year round exhibitions of botanical art. The book provides an overview of the richness and endurance of botanical art and the most significant artists from the 1600s through to contemporary artists.

The book focuses on the botanical artworks in the exhibition in terms of their place in the history of botanical art and in relation to the plants they portray. Images are largely organised according to themes and so paintings completed many years apart are presented side by side. At the end of the book are biographies of all the artists whose work is reproduced in the book.

  • Provides an overview of:
    • the origins, history and relevance of botanical illustration.
    • some of the most significant artists from the 1600s through to contemporary artists
  • includes works by some of the most highly regarded botanical artists of all time
  • extensively illustrated; features some 200 illustrations of paintings and drawings from both the Kew and Shirley Sherwood collections.
  • the colour reproduction of the drawings and paintings is excellent (I saw the exhibition)
  • each illustration is annotated with particularly thorough captions, with artist's details, dimensions of the paintings, medium and material, and the nature of the plant shown.
  • informative essays on the origins, history and relevance of botanical illustration
  • selected bibliography is thorough
Think Again?
  • this is not a 'how to' book - its focus is not on how drawing or paintings were produced
  • indices for both plants and artists could be better.
Who should buy this?:
  • botanical artists
  • botanical art lovers
  • botanical art tutors
Who should not buy this?
  • people not interested in botanical art
Author / (Publisher) Shirley Sherwood, Martyn Rix / Kew Publishing
Technical data:
  • Publication Dates: 1 April 2008 (hardback/paperback):
  • Hardcover/Paperback - 272 pages;
  • Hardcover: ISBN-10: 1842463683 ISBN-13: 978-1842463680
  • Paperback: ISBN-10: 1842462210 ISBN-13: 978-1842462218

This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It proved very popular on publication and I'm sure it will become a landmark publication over time.

This review was first published - in a different format - on Making A Mark on Monday, April 21, 2008 - see Treasures of Botanical Art - a recommended read. This post also includes a review of the exhibition and some of the images of the work on display.

  1. Dr Shirley Sherwood has been collecting contemporary botanical drawings since 1990. Her comprehensive collection from over two hundred artists, living in thirty different countries documents the emergence of a new wave of botanical artists and the renaissance of their art form. She holds a number of distinguished posts with leading organisations in the horticulural and botanical art worlds. She has written several books on botanical art (see below)
  2. Martyn Rix is the editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, which is the longest running botanical periodical in the world.
  3. Kew Publishing is the publishing house of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It produces over 20 new titles each year and aims to inspire and educate people about our work and to make available Kew’s unique heritage and resources, knowledge and cutting edge expertise to as wide an audience as possible throughout the world.

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