This book was published as the catalogue of the inaugural exhibition of the The Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, the first gallery in the world to be dedicated to year round exhibitions of botanical art.
The book provides an overview of the richness and endurance of botanical art and the most significant artists from the 1600s through to contemporary artists.
See also: Kew opens the world's first dedicated botanical art gallery
I highly recommend this book to any student of botanical art and/or aspiring collector of botanical art. I've got all the books written by Shirley Sherwood and although there is some duplication in relation to the best paintings, the fact remains they are all unique books and each adds value to our body of knowledge about botanical art.
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
This is a good quality book which was very popular on publication. It will become a landmark publication over time.
It focuses on the traditional and contemporary botanical artworks in the very FIRST exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery in terms of their place in the history of botanical art and in relation to the plants they portray.
Images are largely organised according to themes (see below for contents under each heading)
At the end of the book are biographies of all the artists - many of whom are very important - whose work is reproduced in the book.
BUY in UK
Rated an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars by 10 customer reviews
Hardcover: 272 pages (also available as a paperback)
Publisher: Kew Publishing | 1st Edition edition (1 April 2008)
BUY in USA
Rated an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars by 3 reviews
Paperback: 272 pages (also available as a hardback)
Publisher: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew | 1st Edition ( 1 Jan. 2008)
Treasures of Botanical Art by Shirley Sherwood and Martyn Rix was published by Kew Publishing to mark the inaugural exhibition of The Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, the first gallery in the world to be dedicated to year round exhibitions of botanical art.
The book is extensively illustrated and features
It should be noted that the book tends to focus on the paintings and their place in history and in relation to the plants rather than the way in which they were produced in terms of drawing or paintings.
It also provides some background on each artist. (In other words, this is an 'art history' book and not a 'how to' book!)
As with the exhibition, the presentation of the images is largely organised according to themes and so paintings completed many years apart can be presented side by side.
The age of antiquity
Herbals and mandrakes
Florilegia and the renaissance in northern Europe
Striped tulips and double anemones
Sunflowers and Compositae
The age of discovery
Proteas, Banksias and Proteaceae
The age of the exotic
South African Eucomis and Veltheimia
Ferns and club-mosses
At the end of the book are biographies of all the artists whose work is reproduced in the book. I found it very interesting to read about some of the backgrounds of the different artists and to understand a bit more about their studies and how long they have been a botanical artist. There are also some interesting snippets by Dr Sherwood about the context for some of the paintings. One of the things I like about the book is the fact it's been written by two experts who know the work well!
Overall, the colour reproduction of the drawings and paintings I saw in the exhibition is excellent.
I also really liked the way each illustration is annotated with particularly thorough captions, with artist's details, dimensions of the paintings, medium and material, and the nature of the plant shown.
It was interesting for me to note just how large some of the paintings are. Size is something which often can't be gauged from reproductions in books. If you read the book but didn't see the exhibition I recommend you pay attention to dimensions!
The selected bibliography is thorough but the indices for both plants and artists are less so. I actually found them to be less helpful than I would have liked. I've tried to look up the page reference for a few things and not found any listing at all in the relevant index
Note 1: Dr Shirley Sherwood has been collecting contemporary botanical drawings since 1990. Her comprehensive collection from over two hundred artists, living in thirty different countries documents the emergence of a new wave of botanical artists and the renaissance of their art form. She holds a number of distinguished posts with leading organisations in the horticulural and botanical art worlds. She has written several books on botanical art (see below)
Note 2: Kew Publishing is the publishing house of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It produces over 20 new titles each year and aims to inspire and educate people about our work and to make available Kew’s unique heritage and resources, knowledge and cutting edge expertise to as wide an audience as possible throughout the world.
Note 3: This review was first published, in a different format, on
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