Today sees the book launch of The Illustrated College Herbal: Plants from the Pharmacopoea Londinensis of 1618 at the Royal College of Physicians. I'll be there this afternoon!
This new illustrated herbal features watercolour paintings and woodcuts of nearly 200 plants from the Pharmacopoea Londinensis beds in the RCP’s Medicinal Garden at its home on the edge of Regent's Park.
The book has an interesting history and this book review precedes comments on its contents with a short history of its antecedents and the reasons why it has been published this year.
I recommend this book to all those interested in the history of medicinal plants and herbals in particular. In addition to the high quality content and production it also contains a lot of information about the plants identified for medicinal use
The Pharmacopoea Londinensis (1618) and the Royal College of Physicians
The Pharmacopoea Londinensis was Britain’s first Pharmacopoeia. That is, an official publication containing a list of medicinal drugs with their effects and directions for their use. It was first published in 1618. (You can read a digital copy on the Wellcome Library website). It contained:
The Royal College of Physicians is an older institution and was founded in 1518. In 2018 it celebrates its 500th anniversary; marked in February by an official visit by HM The Queen and the publication of a modern day RCP500 charter.
The publication of the Illustrated College Herbal in turn marks:
About The Illustrated College Herbal
This book results from a collaboration between:
The contents include:
Next more detailed comments on my real interest - the illustrations!
Tulipa Tulipae - El tulipa ilustrado (Tulipa, Tulipae - the illustated tulip) is a book about botanical art relating to tulips.
It's also the catalogue (in Spanish) for an exhibition at the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid which is all about how tulips have been represented by botanical art from the 600 years - by botanical artists past and present.
Fortunately for those of us who don't read Spanish it also has an English translation at the end - which is very welcome for a book which is a jolly good read. I've learned a few things while reading it.
The Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid has joined forces with the oldest botanical art society in the world, the Society of Botanical Artists to develop a comprehensive exhibition about the botanical art of tulips covering 89 different varieties.
The objective of the exhibition is to show the distinct botanical aspects of the tulip - in terms of its anatomy, taxonomy and classification groups of the genus Tulipa - alongside exhibitions which demonstrate how the tulip has evolved in terms of botanical art over time.
Unusually for a catalogue of an art exhibition, Tulipa Tulipae is both comprehensive and a jolly good read - if you like botanical art history as I do.
I learned about
The book has been written by
In terms of the artists whose work is included, first of all I'd like to say it is wonderful to be able to see the entire exhibition from my home in London.
The paintings I particularly liked included:
I only have one small gripe about the book - and that is the English Translation is at the back and hence the words that go with the images are not next to them. It's OK for the most part. However I personally would have preferred to have what I think of as the Taschen version i.e. two columns of text on each page - for the two languages - and then images opposite. That's the way it works for the biographies and it would have been a really super book if it had been like that throughout.
In terms of getting hold of the book it's available
Hopefully in future we can get the various Botanical Gardens collaborating so they can each supply the books by the others! They already have so many existing connections - it would be good if their various publishers and stores could also collaborate! :)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - for anybody who likes tulips and art history. I'm one such so for me it's just perfect!
Longer term, I can only recommend that more botanical art societies do projects like this and become involved in the creation of books which record the output of their members. Exhibitions are wonderful to visit - but you can keep coming back to a favourite book.
Bobbi Angell is a name which is well known to the botanical art and illustration community in the USA - but is maybe less well known further afield.
My contribution to highlighting her contribution to scientific botanical illustration has been to create a new page about two books she co-authored which I think are particularly noteworthy. They were also published 30 years apart in 1986 and 2016. Both are very valued books in my botanical art bookcase.
Botanical Illustration - Books by Bobbi Angell is a NEW page among the group of pages which form a subset of The Best Botanical Art and Illustration Instruction Books
It focuses on:
The first book is 30 years old but contains an absolute wealth of information and how to prepare botanical illustrations for production and the approaches and materials used for this task
The second book is a book for a wider audience - but also has particular relevance to the student of botanical art, who needs to both understand technical botanical terms - and terms used by gardeners - and appreciate the standards in technical monochrome botanical illustration achieved by those who do it for a living.
READ MORE about them on Botanical Illustration - Books by Bobbi Angell
You'll also find the above books listed on The Best Botany Books for Botanical Artist and Illustrators.
READ MORE about Bobbi Angell on her website or on my page about the top botanical artists in the USA
In-depth Reviews of botanical art instruction books ad authors
What I've tried to do is:
As a guide I've also included the average ratings out of 5 stars for each book (in the UK and USA). Plus a guide to how to interpret these ratings as they are various factors - detailed in my guide - that influence how many ratings a book has got to date.
Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world.
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