The Art of Natural History

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Illustrated Treatises and Botanical Paintings, 1400-1850

Edited by Therese O'Malley and Amy R. W. Meyers

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“Making knowledge visible” is how one 16th-century naturalist described the work of the illustrator of botanical treatises. His words reflected the growing role played by illustrators at a time when the study of nature had been assuming new authority in the world of learning. An absorbing exploration of the relationship between image and text, this collection considers how both aided the development and transmission of scientific knowledge.

Presenting images found throughout Europe in works on natural history, medicine, botany, horticulture, and garden design, and studies of insects, birds, and animals, the contributors emphasize their artistic as well as scientific values. Illustrators are shown to have been both artists and either naturalists or gardeners, bringing to their work aesthetic judgment and empirical observation. Their fascinating images receive a fresh, wide-ranging analysis that covers such topics as innovation, patronage, readership, reception, technologies of production, and the relationship between the fine arts and scientific depictions of nature.

Therese O’Malley is associate dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Amy R. W. Meyers is director of the Yale Center for British Art.
ISBN: 9780300160246
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
Publishing Partner: Published by the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts / Distributed by Yale University Press
280 pages, 9 x 11
164 b/w + 63 color illus.
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