The Healing Plants of Ida Hrubesky Pemberton (Online)
By James J. White, Lugene B. Bruno, with essays by Carolyn Crawford and Victoria Matthews. 2003. 64 pp.; 51 color, 1 b&w figs.; 7 1/2 x 10"; 12 oz. Pictorial stiff paper cover. ISBN 0-913196-76-2.
This exhibition catalogue was the first published monograph on the watercolors of Ida Hrubesky Pemberton (1890–1951), who was working in a period when there were few female American botanical artists. Only 64 finished paintings (held in the collection of the University of Colorado, Boulder) exist by this little-known Denver artist, and they were produced between 1935 and 1942. Many were native plants that she grew from seed in her garden and that had a medicinal or other useful quality. Her familiarity with all aspects of the plant subjects that she "lived with" is obvious. Many of her watercolors include dissections (painted with the aid of a microscope), root structure and stages of development of the plant. Her work is confident, without appearing overworked, and represents the essence of the plant for identification in a pleasing composition.
This illustrated exhibition catalogue includes a biographical essay by botanical artist, plant taxonomist and field botanist Carolyn Crawford, who was greatly inspired by Ida Pemberton's work, as well as an essay on Pemberton's technique by horticultural taxonomist and editor Victoria Matthews. Also included are 45 color images of Pemberton's paintings, photo portraits, endpaper and cover designs for a proposed book on drug plants and a comprehensive list of all of her botanical artwork held at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.