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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Past Exhibitions

American Botanical Prints of Two Centuries

27 April – 31 July 2003

The exhibition included a sampling of two centuries of American printed plant images, from utilitarian to creative. The 19th century in America was one of practical botanical printmaking. From the lowliest school textbook to the grandest exploration report, images of plants were required as illustrative extensions to the text and ranged in size from tiny text figures to large folio plates. Various printmaking processes were employed that required the manual skills of artists, engravers, lithographers, colorists, etc. By the end of the century, photography and photo-mechanical processes had been developed that entirely eliminated the need for hand-worked printmaking methods in the production of utilitarian botanical illustrations. Included were 19th-century prints by George Cochran Lambdin (1830–1896), William Sharp (ca.1802–after 1862), Isaac Sprague (1811–1895) and Frederick A. Walpole (1861–1904). The 20th century saw artists indulging in printmaking purely for art's sake, and the flower and plant portrait provided a rewarding inspiration for many. Included were 20th-century prints by Elfriede Abbe, Henry Evans (1918–1990), Ralph Griswold (1894–1981), Vaino Kola, Warren Mack (1869–1952), Stanley Maltzman, Barry Moser, Joe Price and Richard Ziemann.

A full-color, illustrated catalogue with biographical data and a concise bibliography accompanied the exhibition. A 1986 exhibition, Printmaking in the Service of Botany, traced the history of botanical printmaking in Europe.

Passion-flower [Passiflora Linnaeus, Passifloraceae], hand-colored wood engraving by an unknown engraver, 23 × 13.5 cm, after an original by Hermon Bourne (1800–?) for his Flores Poetici: The Florist's Manual ... with More Than Eighty Beautifully-Coloured Engravings of Poetic Flowers (Boston, Munroe & Francis; New York, Charles S. Francis, 1833, p. 26), HI Library call no. EH3 B775F.

Selected Artworks

[+] Click to enlarge