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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Databases

Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute

Introduction

The collection of botanical art and illustration in the Art Department at the Hunt Institute is one of the world's largest and most broadly representative. It includes approximately 30,000 original works—paintings (mostly watercolors), drawings and original prints—dating from the Renaissance onward. In 1979 James J. White (1941–2011; assistant curator of art, 1978–1981; curator of art, 1982–2010) with the assistance of Elizabeth R. Smith (1917–2005; assistant editor, 1966–2003) began to compile a database of the Art collection, which was published as the Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute (1985–1998). That database is now online, complete with images of most of the uncolored, pre-1900 artworks in the collection. New information is incorporated as it becomes available.

Data fields

Artist Name
Names of artists are given surname first.
Nationality
The nationalities given are not necessarily those of legal citizenship. Dual nationalities are listed for some artists associated significantly with more than one country.
Life Span
Dates of birth and/or death of the artist or period in which he or she flourished are given if known.
Gender
The gender of the artist is given.
Taxon
The scientific binomials of the plants depicted (generic names and specific epithets) are listed only if known with some certainty (more often than not, genus only), based on authoritative accompanying notes, publications or subsequent specialist identifications; when more than one taxonomic entity is represented in a work, each is listed on a separate line and alphabetically. The family or class attributions given for flowering plants (angiosperms) and coniferous plants (gymnosperms) are according to the classification in K. W. von De Dalla Torre and H. Harms, Genera Siphonogamarum ad Systema Engleriana Conscripta (1908; reprint Wiesbaden, 1963); those for non-vascular plants (algae, fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts) and for ferns and fern-allies are according to that in A. Engler's Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien (Berlin-Nikolassee, 1954–1964). However, in the eight cases where there is a preferred and a conserved name, we list both names as follows: Arecaceae alt. Palmae; Asteraceae alt. Compositae; Brassicaceae alt. Cruciferae; Poaceae alt. Gramineae; Clusiaceae alt. Guttiferae; Lamiaceae alt. Labiatae; Fabaceae alt. Leguminosae; Apiaceae alt. Umbelliferae.
Title
Titles of artworks (usually binomials, sometimes with common names) are transcribed from the works themselves or their publication contexts. Imputed titles and any supplementary information are given in brackets.
Description
For plant portraits, a brief description of the subject is included when only a portion of the plant is depicted (e.g., a single leaf, flower or fruit, winter twig, floral details) or when a special feature is included (e.g., a conspicuous insect). The description is omitted if the work adequately represents the plant as a whole (including fertile material in the case of a seed plant). For decorative, horticultural, and some non-botanical subjects, a terse description (e.g., flowers; roses in vase; pruning; gardener's tools) is included.
Printmaker
Names of printmakers are given surname first. Dates of birth and/or death of the printmaker or period in which he or she flourished are given if known.
Signature

The signature is given as it appears on the artwork and with its location (t = top; b = bottom; l = left; r = right; c = center).
Place of Execution
Place indicates where the artwork was executed.
Date of Execution
Date indicates when the artwork was executed.
Medium
Medium indicates either the physical material applied to produce the image (e.g., gouache, ink, oil, watercolor) or the printmaking technique employed to create it (e.g., engraving, etching, woodcut).
Support
Support indicates the material upon which the image is borne (e.g., paper, illustration board, vellum).
Image Size
Image size indicates the actual image size or plate mark in the case of prints. Sizes are in centimeters and are given as height by width.
Dimensions
Dimensions of the support upon which the image is borne (e.g., paper, illustration board, vellum) are given in centimeters and as height by width.
Edition
For a print, the first number given is its sequence number in the edition; the second is the total number of prints in the edition. When the print is an artist's proof, that designation appears instead of numbers.
Publication
"For" denotes a work reproduced in the publication cited; "From" denotes an original print that was itself included in the publication cited. When the artwork obviously has been published but the publication is unknown, any information printed on the work is cited in quotation marks, followed by indication of its location.
Accession Number
The Hunt Institute's Art Department accession number is given.
Notes
Additional remarks are sometimes provided.
HIBD Exhibitions
We continue to add the exhibitions in the Hunt Institute gallery in which this artwork was included.
HIBD Publications
We continue to add the exhibition catalogues produced by the Hunt Institute in which this artwork was included.
Copyright
When known, copyright information for the image is given. Copyright may be held by the artist or the estate of the artist. The image may be out of copyright and now in the public domain.
Credit
The credit line is to be used for images noted as in the public domain or for images that upon request are supplied by the Hunt Institute.
Image
We continue to add thumbnail images of pre-1900 artworks in the collection and in-copyright images as permission is granted. Any contemporary botanical artists wishing to grant permission to add thumbnails of their works already included in the Art collection should contact the Art Department to do so. Copyright and credit information for specific images are included within the database. To improve download speeds and enhance the usability of the database, we have moved the public domain images to a separate database. The identifying information (accession number, artist name, nationality, taxon, etc.) is contained in both databases. The thumbnail images remain in the main Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute database while the full image for downloading is in the Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute: Public Domain Images database. To inquire about publishing other images, please contact the Art Department.

Acknowledgments

Preparation and publication of this catalogue have been made possible in part by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (grants 02-4420-285, 12-4420-526 and 22-4420-139). The current Curator and Assistant Curator of Art wish to express their gratitude to their predecessors and the other Institute staff members who have worked so hard over the years to transform the handwritten accession book into a published nine-part catalogue and then into the present fully accessible database with images. We greatly appreciate the dedication and effort by James J. White and Elizabeth R. Smith to database the Art collection. We thank our staff botanists, Director Robert W. Kiger and Assistant Director T. D. Jacobsen, who have aided in the plant identifications. We gratefully recognize the work by Graphics Manager Frank A. Reynolds to photograph the collection, which allows us to include thumbnail images and turns the database into a true catalogue of the Art collection. We especially thank all of the artists, individuals and organizations who have donated works to the collection over the years.

Helleborus niger ... [Helleborus niger Linnaeus, Ranunculaceae], gouache on vellum by Georg Dionys Ehret (1708–1770), 1745, 48 × 36 cm, HI Art accession no. 2649.