of Botanical Illustration
began the true scientific study of plants in the ca. 6th century B.C.,
and Theophrastus (student of
Aristotle) is considered the father of botany. He understood the
structure and taxonomy of plants and was interested in classification.
during the time period of 200 through 1483, interest in plants was
purely from a medicinal perspective, and thus, the majority of published
works were herbals with woodcut illustrations. Many of the
illustration were extremely stylized, and did not necessarily reflect
the physical specimen.
An interest in
scientific enquiry developed after the Renaissance, although there was
still great interest in private gardens and medicinal plants as topics
for books. The invention of printing enabled numerous copies
of botanical works to be distributed, and the age of exploration
provided opportunities for authors and illustrators to display new
examples of discoveries in the New World.
Increasingly, specimens were preserved in herbarium and used to develop realistic illustrations.
Many of the illustrations continued to be woodcut, and were then hand
Special Collections Department, ISU Library
Copyright © 2003, Iowa State University.
All rights reserved.