Scientific Wonders
Botanical Prints from the lloyd Library and Museum

May 7-August 1, 2015

PERSPECTIVE | Curator’s Talk
curator Deborah Elliott, Scientific Wonders: Exploring Botanical Prints
Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 6–7pm

Meticulously rendered and beautifully hand-colored, nearly two dozen eighteenth- and nineteenth-century botanical prints from the Lloyd Library and Museum Rare Book Collection will be on display in the ZMA’s permanent collection gallery this spring. Guest curator Deborah Elliott of Ohio University-Zanesville organized this exhibition, which will be on view during the museum’s spring Gala, Art in the Garden. Elliott’s thoughtful selection of exceptional volumes and striking works on paper presents viewers with a rare glimpse of these scientific wonders.

Popularized during the Age of Enlightenment—a period when science and reason were used to understand the universe—these prints allowed intellectuals to explore the wonders of the plant kingdom. The need to expand upon ancient knowledge on the subject drove a new interest in identifying, categorizing, and recording plant life. Books of botanical prints became fashionable and provided curious viewers with glimpses of the everyday and the exotic, from the medicinal herbs of Europe to the flowers of the faraway tropics.

There is more to these prints, however, than diagrams of flowers, stamens, and pistils. These plates, with their blend of scientific, expressive, and decorative elements, represent collaboration between botanists, artists, engravers, colorists, and publishers. The fascinating stories behind these works of art continue to stir our interest and satisfy our desire for knowledge and beauty.

Image: Robinia rosea, Pierre Joseph Redouté from Traité des arbres et arbustes que l'on cultive en France en pleine terre, Duhamel du Monceau, 1800.  Image courtesy of the Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio.