This and That: Art and Science

4 McMahon and Case

“Layered Similarity,” print created by Taryn McMahon and Andrea Case of Kent State University

I cannot end my series of miscellaneous posts (1,2,3) without mentioning one of my favorite topics: the relationship between art and botany.  The example I want to explore here comes from a Kent State University blog post.  This institution has an Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative (ESDRI), an intriguing title for a collaboration among individuals from across the university who are interested in connections between the built and natural worlds.  One participant is Taryn McMahon, an assistant professor of print media and photography.  Concerned with plants and ecology, she was looking for someone with similar interests and was led to Andrea Case, an associate professor of biology doing research on plant reproduction.  I know from experience that individuals who share common interests but are sequestered in different colleges at a university may never find each other.  That’s why an interdisciplinary enterprise like ESDRI is so important:  it makes these links more likely to form.

McMahon was seeking to understand plants more deeply for a print-making project called “Intersecting Methods” curated by Matthew McLoughlin, a Maryland artist.  Every two years he invites a number of printmakers to each submit a piece made in collaboration with a scientist for a portfolio that is exhibited and then each participant receives a set of all the prints.  There is a website where you can see some of the earlier series.  In the course of their collaboration, McMahon and Case discussed their research interests and processes.  They came to appreciate how each approached the ideas they found intriguing.  Case, curator of the Kent State Herbarium, showed McMahon specimens to emphasize that small details in plant structure matter in terms of identification and in how plants function.  McMahon in turn was struck by the fact that her prints were about the same size as herbarium sheets and also, the plants in her prints were arranged very much like specimens as well.

There are also similarities between the working methods of print makers and scientists.  Both start with an initial idea, question, or problem to solve, then experiment to find the right techniques, refine them as they go based on experimentation, do more experiments or make more prints after changing variables, and keep doing this until they come to a final result with which they are satisfied enough to make it public.  Since Case does research on the genus Lobelia, she and McMahon decided to use plants she was growing in making the prints, work which they did together.

What I find most interesting about this collaboration is how the interests of artist and botanist coincided.  Not surprisingly, they both emphasize the importance of observation.  Case mentioned the need to be meticulous in documenting and observing plants.  McMahon noted that a drawing starts with staring at the subject and understanding it; drawing comes only after understanding the form.  One of her most important influences is the 17th-century Dutch artist Maria Sibylla Merian, known for her paintings of insects and plants.  McMahon’s work is very different but it shares Merian’s bold graphic style.  The artist also quoted the philosopher of science Bruno Latour (2004), who argues that matters of fact for scientists can become matters of concern through art.

This is a beautiful and powerful idea.  It says a great deal about both endeavors and speaks of a potent feedback loop between them.  Art makes us look more carefully and feel more deeply, in this case, reaching a different level of understanding of the plant world as a source of color and form.  This experience can make us more willing to look carefully at the plants we encounter.  Looking often leads to questioning:  why are the leaves hairy or the stems sticky or the flowers vividly colored?  Looking more makes the plants in our environment more important to us.  I know this for a fact.  Since I’ve become plant-mad, I see so much more, examine so much more, and am amply rewarded with new knowledge and new questions to answer.

McMahon also sees the scientific viewpoint in dialogue with the art:  asking questions about its meaning and its impact.  Obviously her practice and Case’s are now in conversation with each other, and I hope they will continue their collaboration in the future.  It could lead to a mutual enrichment of their respective projects, and also, perhaps most importantly, enrich their students’ learning experiences, so that the next generation will think of art and science as more closely and inextricably connected than was the case in the 20th century.  The print that the two professors produced together is called “Layered Similarity” (see above).  Bringing my own interpretation to it, as McMahon has invited, I see the dark silhouettes in the foreground as the pressed herbarium specimens and the colored forms bursting behind them as the living plants ready to jump from the page, full of life and in bloom.  Yet they too have a hint of being specimens as well, note the insect damage to the leaves.  These are plants that have been captured in the middle of their lives, warts and all—a disembodied leaf may suggest that its reverse side is being displayed.  There are both literally and figuratively many layers to this print, and if you look at McLaughlin’s site you’ll see prints from other scientist/artist collaborations that all reward careful observation.

Reference

Latour, B. (2004). Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Critical Inquiry, 30(2), 225–248. https://doi.org/10.1086/421123

Art and the Herbarium: Metaphor

4 Freud

Cover of Lucian Freud Herbarium by Giovanni Aloi, courtesy of Prestel Publishing

In the last post, I discussed Anselm Kiefer and his use of dried plants, essentially herbarium material, in his multimedia paintings.  Here I want to begin with another artist whose name is linked to herbaria, at least metaphorically.  In Lucian Freud Herbarium Giovanni Aloi (2019) deals with paintings of plants that Freud created throughout his career, though Freud is much better known for his portraits, sometimes of nudes with less than perfect bodies.  I am always surprised and delighted when I discover artists known for other subjects who also painted plants:  the pop artist Jim Dine (Dine & Livingstone, 1994), the minimalist Ellsworth Kelly (Axsom, 2005), and two painters in the precisionist style:  Charles Sheeler (Troyen, 1987) and Charles Demuth (Peitcheva, 2016).  But here what I want to focus on is Aloi’s inclusion of the word “herbarium” in the book’s title.

The term “herbarium” was in use long before there were collections of preserved plants.  It is a Latin noun and was employed to refer to a book on plants, often illustrated.  For example, Otto Brunfels’s 1534 Herbarum Vivae Eicones was an early herbal, a volume on medicinal plants that had realistic illustrations.  This was about the same time that herbaria began to be created, but the term used for such a collection was usually the Latin hortus siccus, dry garden, or hortus hyemalis, winter garden.  Agnes Arber (1938) writes:  “The word “Herbarium,” in the modern sense, makes its first appearance in print—so far as the present writer is aware—in Pitton de Tournefort’s Elemens of 1694” (p. 142).  She is so often quoted on this that 1694 has become the birthday of the term, over 150 years after the first of its kind was created.

Those working in herbaria are often called on to describe their place of employment to family and friends.  Say the word, and people automatically think of growing and selling herbs, or being into health food or herbal medicine.  Their faces usually fall when it’s explained that herbaria house dead plants, all labeled with scientific names.  But the fact remains that the base of this term, herb, is the Latin word for herb or grass.  It has been tied to plant material for millennia, and “herbarium” continues to be used in a variety of ways, usually to describe some plant-related collection, as in the case of the Freud book.  I’d like to dig a little deeper into this metaphorical usage because it both causes some confusion—I have never heard that Lucian Freud, for all his interest in plants and his attention to rendering them realistically, ever had a herbarium.

The definition of a metaphor I like to use is that of the philosopher Max Black (1954).  He argues that a metaphor is different from a direct comparison:  saying metaphorically “man is a wolf” is different from saying “man is like a wolf.”  The metaphor is more powerful.  Though the two subjects have both similarities and differences, it is the similarities that are heightened in the metaphor.  So in the case of herbarium, using the term “Lucian Freud herbarium” highlights the fact that Freud painted a collection of plants as a way to preserve something of them visually even though he didn’t press the plants or dry them or paste them on to sheets of paper.  There have been several collections of art referred to as herbaria including an exhibit of plant-related pieces at Lytes Cary Manor House in Britain called simply Herbarium, as well as a book on art that links technology with plants, The Technological Herbarium (Gatti, 2010).

Right now it seems to be fashionable to use the word herbarium metaphorically in a variety of ways, usually relating to plants and collections and often with the idea of preservation, of memory.  This is especially true for writers interested in plants as sentient beings or at least worthy of more attention for having sophisticated interactions with the environment including with other living things.  It is not a coincidence that Giovanni Aloi, the author of the Lucian Freud book, is also the editor of a volume of essays, Botanical Speculations (2018), on plants in contemporary art with a focus on their “agency.”  There is also Botanical Drift: Protagonists of the Invasive Herbarium (Carroll, 2017), a collection of art pieces presented at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew that encouraged visitors to appreciate plants in new ways.

Michael Marder, a philosopher and leading figure in the “critical plant studies” movement to link the humanities to botany, has used the herbarium metaphor in two different ways in his books.  In The Philosopher’s Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium, Marder (2014) applies the term to emphasize his interest in collecting stories about how philosophers have incorporated their observations on plants into building their philosophical systems.  Marder’s The Chernobyl Herbarium (2016) is more personal.  It is a collection of writings about his memories of living downwind from Chernobyl at the time of the reactor accident and includes photographs of plants taken by Anaïs Tondeur by pressing plants from the area near the reactor onto photographic plates, which were thus developed by the radiation emitted by the plants.  The resulting images are ghostly but powerful.  Other meanings of herbaria also arise here including deterioration, death, and fragility.  Such metaphorical uses of the word may be one way we can give it more currency.  Max Black argues that metaphors can be used so much that they lose their force, but I don’t think we are there yet.

References

Aloi, G. (Ed.). (2018). Botanical Speculations. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars.

Aloi, G. (2019). Lucian Freud Herbarium. Munich, Germany: Prestel.

Arber, A. (1938). Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution a Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Axsom, R. (2005). Drawn from Nature: The Plant Lithographs of Ellsworth Kelly. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Black, M. (1954). Metaphor. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 55, 273–294.

Carroll, K. von Z. (Ed.). (2017). Botanical Drift: Protagonists of the Invasive Herbarium. Berlin, Germany: Sternberg.

Gatti, G. M. (2010). The Technological Herbarium (A. N. Shapiro, Trans.). Berlin, Germany: Avinus.

Livingstone, M. (1994). Jim Dine: Flowers and Plants. New York, NY: Abrams.

Marder, M. (2014). The Philosopher’s Plant: An Intellectual Herbarium. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Marder, M. (2016). The Chernobyl Herbarium: Fragments of an Exploded Consciousness. London, UK: Open Humanities Press.

Peitcheva, M. (2016). Charles Demuth: Drawings. Scott’s Valley, CA: CreateSpace.

Troyen, C. (1987). Charles Sheeler, Paintings and Drawings. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Art and the Herbarium: Galleries and Museums

Evil Flowers, National Gallery of Victoria

Anselm Kiefer’s Evil Flowers at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Herbarium specimens are kept in many museums, museums of natural history, that is.  They almost never end up in art museums.  Almost never.  At both the beginning and end of his career, the German artist Joseph Beuys used pressed plants in his work.  Herb Robert (1941) is a notebook page with a list of medicinal plants in pencil and two dried and pressed flowers of Geranium robertianum pasted on top of the list.  Ombelico di Venere–Cotyledon Umbilicus Veneris (1985) is a series of ten pages of pressed specimens of Cotyledon umbilicus-veneris L. (now Umbilicus rupestris).  The first part of the title is the plant’s Italian common name, navel of Venus, for its navel-shaped leaves.  Beuys’s “specimens” are labeled with both common and scientific names and also where and when he collected them.  They may look like rather poor specimens made by an amateur, but they are considered works of art and have been sold separately to a number of collectors.  I don’t know how much they cost, but I suspect that I couldn’t afford one.  Beuys was influenced by, among others, Marcel Duchamp, who was famous for taking everyday objects like a urinal and exhibiting them as works of art, thus blurring the definition of art.

One of Beuys’s students, Anselm Kiefer, has used dried plants more extensively in his work, though not in ways as closely tied to herbarium specimens.  I first encountered his art years ago during a museum visit with my husband, who stopped in his tracks when he saw a Kiefer work.  I asked him why he was so struck by a painting that I saw as bleak and rather monotonous (you can tell which of us was an art historian).  Bob informed me that Kiefer was one of the great German painters of the post-World War II era, whose art addressed issues of that time.  I remembered the painting and the artist’s name, but I didn’t seek out his work.  Years passed, Bob died, I fell in love with herbaria, and on a trip to Melbourne, I saw Kiefer’s Evil Flowers (1985-1992) at the National Gallery of Victoria (see above).  Pasted to an oil painting, and almost completely obscuring it, were dried sprays of delphiniums covered in shellac.  Now I was stopped in my tracks.  These were not nicely pressed plants; they were brown and the flowers gone to seed.  But they were still tall and stately, though the title suggests an ominous story, as does much of his work.

For Kiefer, dried plants are not a matter of science but of metaphor.  He was born in Germany in March 1945, not surprisingly in an air-raid shelter.  He remembers thinking it normal as a child to play in piles of rubble (Dermutz, 2019).  But Kiefer’s work is not totally about destruction and death, it is also about memory and preservation.  He has a work called For Paul Celan – Ukraine (2005) that resembles an herbarium, a massive pile of lead sheets with aluminum sunflowers pressed between them, their flower heads and stems sticking out at each end.  It is as if the plants are struggling to leave the confines of the sheets and find the sun.  There is hope here, as in many of Kiefer’s works that incorporate sunflowers—real dried plants, real seeds, and painted or sculpted representations.  His work is complex, and though I’ve read some art criticism about him, I can’t say I understand it.  Yet I have come to appreciate it, be moved by it, and see the importance of dried plant material in artistic expression as well as in botanical science.

Another example of herbarium specimens in an art context is Tarin Simon’s Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015).  This is a complex conceptual work in which Simon recreated bouquets decorating tables where important international agreements were signed, a political example of botany as interior decoration (see last post).  After taking a series of photographs of each bouquet, she pressed the plants from the arrangements and attached them to herbarium sheets, without labels.  She had sought technical assistance from the mounting staff at New York Botanical Garden.  For each bouquet/agreement, the photographs were stacked on top of pages from the treaty, along with a stack of the related herbarium specimens.  Each assemblage was presented in a glass case resting on a concrete plinth.  For Simon, this work was a commentary on how nature is used to support and display power, and her installation itself created a powerful statement when it was displayed at the 2015 Venice Biennial; quite a prestigious venue for herbarium sheets (Simon, 2016).

There are too many artists working with plant material in the herbarium tradition to mention them all here.  I’ll end with two who take very different approaches from the anthropological to the whimsical.  Lindsay Sekulowicz is an artist who had an exhibit at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew in 2018 that included a selection of items from Kew’s economic botany collection.  Entitled Plantae Amazonicae, the show was made up of items that the 19th-century botanist Richard Spruce obtained from indigenous peoples of the Amazon.  It also presented some of the specimens he collected, including one of the tree Licania octandra, whose wood was mixed with river mud to make pottery.  Also dealing with material from the past, the artist Margherita Pevere found a folder with unmounted specimens that had been collected along the Croatian coast many years ago.  They had suffered insect and fungal damage, but Pevere felt this increased their visual and expressive interest so she mounted and labeled them.  She sees this collection as a memento mori for pondering issues of life and death, much in the style of Kiefer.

References

Dermutz, K. (2019). Anselm Kiefer (T. Lewis, Trans.). London, UK: Seagull.

Simon, T. (2016). Paperwork and the Will of Capital. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz.

Art and the Herbarium: On and Off the Wall

2 Hotel Herbarium

Herbarium display at London hotel coffee shop

In the last post, I discussed recent trends in botanical illustration, scientifically correct renderings of plants that can also be aesthetically magnificent.  Though he sometimes questioned its use, especially in writings on genera (Reeds, 2004), even Carl Linnaeus agreed about its beauty.  He papered the bedroom of his country home in Hammarby with hand-painted illustrations from Christoph Trew’s Plantae Selectae.  These were done by one of the greatest botanical artists, Georg Ehret.  While the prints are still in place, they pose a problem for art historians and restorers, as Per Cullhed (2008) notes in an essay written for a Linnean Society symposium marking the 300th anniversary of Linnaeus’s birth.  Restoration would be difficult because the paper has been severely damaged in places and may not survive an intervention.  However, doing nothing means that deterioration will continue.  Cullhen likens the problem to the dilemma of preserving Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper without making it look very different from how it appeared before restoration.

Several years ago I wrote an article on the biology of interior decoration (Flannery, 2005), which, I argued, stems from biophilia, defined by E.O. Wilson (1984) as an innate urge to connect with other species.  Yes, this includes having house plants and owning dogs and/or cats, but it also means dried flowers—sort of a 3-D herbarium—and sitting on a couch with a floral chintz print.  Then there are the botanical prints that grace many people’s homes and seem to be perennial favorites.  Recently, I’ve seen a different though less widespread trend.  On my first morning in London on a visit in 2018, I planned to go to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  But first, of course, I needed breakfast.  As I sat down to order my coffee and scone, I was amazed to see an array of framed herbarium specimens on the restaurant’s wall (see image above).  It was quite a display, and on closer examination turned out to be from an unnamed collector who pressed them in Italy in the early years of the 20th century.  They made a beautiful display.  A friend told me of a restaurant in New York with a similar presentation, and The World of Interiors magazine featured the bathroom of a stately home with framed specimens hanging over the tub (Shaw, 2019).  I am of two minds about this trend, if it can be called that.  It does get herbaria seen by a wider audience, but unaccompanied by a museum-like descriptive card, viewers might not even realize what they are seeing.  The restaurant’s wait staff had never given them a second glance until I swooned over the display, and then they did look more closely, a tiny victory for the herbarium world.

Over the centuries, most people took a different approach to surrounding themselves with flowers:  they used wallpaper.  In the case of William Kilburn, a botanical illustrator for William Curtis’s Flora Londinensis, branching out into commercial floral designs for wall coverings and fabrics turned out to be more lucrative (Nelson, 2008).  He gave up the exacting scientific work, but his designs still revealed his attention to detail.  The 20th-century botanical artist Anne Ophelia Dowden also designed fabric.  In the 21st century, individuals sometimes moved in the opposite direction.  A number of those enrolled in the Certificate Program in Botanical Illustration at New York Botanical Garden were fabric designers who had lost work when the industry moved to digital art.

There is also another aspect of floral fabric design, and that’s the use of embroidery.  This is an old tradition that began with embellishment of religious vestments in the middle ages and then became common on the clothing of wealthy men and women and in home decorations.  This work was done by professionals, usually men, but then in the Renaissance, embroidery began to be taken up by upper-class women, with several pieces even attributed to Mary Queen of Scots (Parker, 1984).  Embroiderers used patterns books that were filled with floral illustrations to be copied onto fabric.  Jacques Le Moyne, who produced exquisite flower paintings, came out of the floral fabric design tradition of the French Huguenots.  A pattern book of plants and animals for embroidery was based on his work.

Today, there are a number of fiber artists who do beautiful floral embroideries, sometimes for high-end fashion designers, sometimes as works of art.  Karen Nicol’s work is one example of these approaches.  In addition, there is one artist whose work I find particularly intriguing because it is definitely in the herbarium tradition.  Susanna Bauer presses fallen leaves and then adds embroidery to them:  in some cases “repairing” insect damage with crochet, in others carefully adding stitches to the leaves without causing them to crack.  Her pieces definitely make the viewer look more carefully at the leaf.  They provide a different dimension to our relationship with nature, something more intimate than simply pressing plant material between sheets of paper.

3 Latvis

Sarah Herzog modeling the labcoat she embroidered for her graduate adviser, Dr. Maribeth Latvis

Other artists use machine sewing to represent plants in intriguing ways, such as Sumakshi Singh’s black thread sketches on thin fabric, creating a cloth herbarium collection of ethereal plant drawings.  In addition, there are two embroiderers whose work I found on Twitter.  One is the textile artist Charlotte Lade who volunteers at the herbarium of the Natural History Museum, London and creates work based on the specimens.  Also, Maribeth Latvis, who teaches at South Dakota State University and directs the Taylor Herbarium there, tweeted that her student had asked to decorate her lab coat and returned it festooned with embroidered flowers (see above).

References

Cullhed, P. (2008). The conservation of iconic objects and Linnaeus’ books and wallpaper. In The Linnaean Legacy (pp. 135–140). Linnean Society of London.

Flannery, M. C. (2005). Jellyfish on the ceiling and deer in the den: The biology of interior decoration. Leonardo, 38(3), 239–244.

Nelson, E. C. (2008). William Kilburn’s calico patterns, copyright and Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 25(4), 361–373.

Parker, R. (1984). The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine. New York, NY: Routledge.

Reeds, K. (2004). When the botanist can’t draw: The case of Linnaeus. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 29(3), 248–258.

Shaw, R. B. (2019). Tack’s exempt. The World of Interiors, April, 218–227.

Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Art and the Herbarium: Botanical Illustrations

1 Rauh witch hazel

Watercolor of witch hazel seed pods by Dr. Dick Rauh, courtesy of the artist

Over three years ago, I began this blog with a series of posts on the relationship between art and herbaria (1,2,3,4).  This is such a rich subject that I want to return to it here and explore areas that I hadn’t discussed previously.  One topic is probably the most obvious and that’s botanical illustration.  Defined narrowly, this is art in the service of botany, documenting plants as accurately as possible either in pen-and-ink drawings or in watercolor.  These artistic traditions extend back at least to the mid-16th century, though there are accurate renditions of plants much older than that, for example in the sixth-century Juliana Anicia Codex, named for the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Carrara Herbal produced in Italy at the end of the 14th century.  The Linnaean era brought an informal codification of what a botanical illustration should include:  details of flower structure sometimes with dissections and enlargements as auxiliary to the main image, fruit might also be pictured (Nickelsen, 2006).  What didn’t change was the tradition of presenting a single species against a blank background, though in print, several individual species might be pictured on the same page to save space.

While some thought that photography would replace illustration in botanical publications, that substitution is hardly complete.  There is still a place for illustration in part because, as the zoological artist Jonathan Kingdon has noted:  “Contemporary research on the human brain shows that it does NOT process images as a neutral camera does.  The brain finds edges and builds constructions that are at least partially based on previous experience—possibly including past contacts with artifacts such as ‘drawings’ as well as previous knowledge of natural objects” (Kingdon, 2011, p. 137).  From this he concludes that:  “If the brain is unlike a camera in actively seeking outlines, there is a strong implication that ‘outline drawings’ can represent, in themselves, artifacts that may correspond more closely with what the brain seeks than the charts of light-fall that photographs represent” (p. 139).

Today, most illustrations are in pen and ink because watercolors are much more expensive to produce and publish.  However, in the late 20th and into the 21st century there has been a renaissance in botanical painting fueled by several factors.  Among these was the development of exhibitions and prizes.  The International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration has been sponsored by at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh since 1964.  This is a juried show with artists from many nations represented and is now usually held every two years.  The Royal Horticultural Society in London mounts a yearly Botanical Art Show and awards prizes in several categories.  I am proud to say that I’ve taken a number of classes with an artist who has been in the Hunt Show and also won RHS prizes.  Dick Rauh has taught for many years in the botanical illustration certificate program at New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) (see image above).  Such programs have done a lot to spur interest in botanical art and have produced many exceptional artists.  The best way to get a sense of the field is to look at the website of the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), and at their journal, The Botanical Artist, which is full of wonderful articles about the field.

If there is one name that is synonymous with botanical art in the 21st century, it is that of Shirley Sherwood, who is not an artist but a generous patron of the field.  I first learned of her through her books on botanical art that feature pieces from her collection as well as other works (Sherwood, 1996, 2001, 2005).  These are fascinating to read, and her artistic taste is superb.  Sherwood has funded a gallery in her name at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where contemporary botanical art as well as historical collections are exhibited.  Her husband James Sherwood, a well-known businessman, supports her interest in botany, and it’s a credit to them both that botanical art—and more broadly interest in plants—have flourished thanks to them.

Three other trends in botanical art worth noting include the focus many botanical artists have on picturing endangered species.  There have been several exhibits with this theme in botanical gardens in different countries, including one at NYBG sponsored by the ASBA.  Also, artists have been invited to participate in a number of florilegia projects.  Perhaps the best known was sponsored by Britain’s Prince Charles and focused on plants grown at his Highgrove estate.  His foundation also supported the publication of The Transylvania Florilegium picturing Romanian plants.  The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is continuing to sponsor its on-going project, a florilegium of plants in the garden.

The final trend I want to mention is the broadening of subject matter for botanical art.  Besides what would be considered traditional subjects and formats, some artists have been daring in taking on subjects such as dying and decaying foliage.  This may not seem particularly interesting, yet some of these pieces are remarkable, such as the work of Jessica Shepherd.  Not only are they beautiful, but they focus attention on a portion of the plant life cycle that we often neglect.  A decaying leaf with its myriad colors and lacy structure is a wonder that we usually just rake up and throw in the compost pile.  Also, more botanical artists are taking on ecology by presenting plants in context, as they grow in nature.  Margaret Mee, the British artist known for her works on the Brazilian flora, was a master of this genre but many others use this approach such as Jenny Hyde-Johnson of South Africa.  In other words, there are more and more wonderful things to look at in the botanical art world.

References

Kingdon, J. (2011). In the eye of the beholder. In M. R. Canfield (Ed.), Field Notes on Science and Nature (pp. 129–160). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Nickelsen, K. (2006). Draughtsmen, Botanists and Nature: The Construction of Eighteenth-Century Botanical Illustrations. Springer.

Sherwood, S. (1996). Contemporary Botanical Artists. New York: Cross River Press.

Sherwood, S. (2001). A Passion for Plants: Contemporary Botanical Masterworks. London, UK: Cassell.

Sherwood, S. (2005). A New Flowering: 1000 Years of Botanical Art. Oxford, UK: Ashmolean.

Sadie Price in the Herbarium

4a Asplenium

Sadiee Price’s drawing of Asplenium spinulosum in the library archives, Missouri Botanical Garden.

Since I am interested in the relationship of science and art, I am intrigued by the connections between drawings and herbarium specimens, as in the case Blanche Ames’s watercolor sketches attached to Oakes Ames’s sheets of orchid specimens (see earlier post).  There are also many instances where loose drawings and botanical prints were stored in folders along with specimens in herbarium cabinets.  In other words, they were seen as works of science more than of art.  This practice is less common today, when the same items are considered more as artworks that need to be protected from the chemicals in plant material that could discolor or damage them.  At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, many illustrations are still housed in the herbarium but in separate boxes from the specimens.  At the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh former curator Henry Nolte acidulously went through the herbarium folders removing illustrations and then attempted to reorganize them according to artist or to the collector who had created a particular collection.

Such separation is now common practice.  At the Field Museum, Christine Niezgoda showed me a file of illustrations she has found amid herbarium folders.  She said she was more likely to find them in folders from plant groups that are not under intensive studies by museum botanists—these just aren’t accessed often.  She discovered a beautiful collection of prints filed with Japanese specimens.  At the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT), Doug Holland, director of the library, told me a similar story.  While their tropical collections are heavily used, this is less true of American plants.  However in preparing a flora of Missouri, George Yatskievych, then at MOBOT now at the University of Texas, came upon a number of drawings by a Kentucky amateur botanist and botanical illustrator, Sadie Price (1849-1903).  Most were the size of a herbarium sheet, and some even had herbarium labels.  Since the sheets had acquisition numbers, Yatskievych was able to track down hundreds of them, that are now kept in the MOBOT archives along with Price’s beautiful drawings of insects and other animals.

When I visited the Sachs Museum at MOBOT (see last post), I then went over to the library and looked at some of the Price botanical illustrations.  She had done a book on ferns as a guide for collecting, and for most of the species presented there, matching drawings can be found among her artwork.  Usually there are two per species, one a preparatory sketch and then a finished drawing.  The sketch is often almost as detailed as the drawing, though the latter has a herbarium label giving the Latin name and order of the fern, the date and place of collection and the collector’s name (see image above).  In many cases, the labels are printed with room for the information to be written in.  At the top there is a line for “Herbarium of . . . ” and there Price wrote in the county where the plant was found.  This is an interesting way to present a drawing.  It is useful because it indicates that a living plant was used as the model and provides information relating to it.  If the plant were a new species, this would be particularly important.  And in fact, Sadie did discover more than one new species of flowering plant, for example, Apios priceana, Price’s groundnut.

None of the fern drawings are in watercolor, but many flowering plants are.  Usually it is not the entire drawing, but portions—including the flower and/or fruit to striking effect (see figure below).  The rest of the drawing is done in pencil; Price rarely used ink except for her initials.  When I met Doug Holland at a meeting last year, he told me about the Price collection, and I was intrigued by her use of the herbarium sheet format.  I became more interested after I went through many of her drawings.  Even when she didn’t paste on labels, she often replicated the label format either on a handwritten scrap pasted to the sheet, or else she drew a rectangular box in pencil and filled the information in there.

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Sadie Price’s drawing of Aesculus octandra in the library archives, Missouri Botanical Garden

Price was determined to have her drawings look like specimen sheets, yet this wasn’t because they replaced specimens for her.  She also collected plants, and many of her specimens are now at MOBOT, in some cases of the same plants she drew.  All her natural history materials along with a scrapbook were given to the garden by her sister after her death.  The scrapbook is filled with interesting letters, newspaper cuttings, notes, etc., including an article from the Bowling Green Advocate announcing Price’s gold medal for her herbarium display, the best among 100 entries at the Chicago World’s Fair.  This suggests that her specimens were as elegant as her drawings, and also that creating herbaria was still a common pursuit among natural history buffs at the end of the 19th century.

The Advocate article proudly noted that the award was an indication that “Miss Price is in the first rank of scientists in the nation.”  I am not sure that university-trained botanists would have agreed, but Price would have been pleased with the compliment.  I think that her use of specimen labels on her illustrations was an attempt to both increase their scientific value and also to suggest that the artist knew enough botany to understand why identification of place and time as well as species was important.

Note:  I would like to thank Doug Holland for sharing information about Sadie Price with me and showing me so much of her art.

The Sachs Museum

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Upper gallery and ceiling of the Sachs Museum at the Missouri Botanical Garden

It bothers me when I can’t get into a museum.  I don’t mean because I got there on a day it’s not open, but because it’s permanently closed.  When my husband and I visited Paris in 1983, this was the case with the National Museum of Natural History, which had been shuttered for years.  So it was particularly thrilling 12 years later when we were able to see the entire building and experience its Grand Gallery of Evolution with a parade of organisms spread across it.  It was also exciting recently when I was able to tour the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  When I was at the garden several years ago, the museum was closed, as it had been for years.   It only opened once a year on Henry Shaw’s birthday to celebrate the garden’s founder.  When Peter Wyse Jackson became President of MOBOT in 2010, he spearheaded an effort to renovate and reopen the museum.  An adjacent facility was added to provide better access and the entire interior was conserved and refurbished.  I was lucky enough to tour it with curator, Nezka Pfeifer, who was particularly proud of the first exhibition mounted since the museum’s opening, “Leafing Through History: Plants that Make Paper.”  We began in the lower level, originally an area for labs and offices.  It is now a gallery, at that moment filled with paper art, including origami done by a number of notable artists in this medium, among them Robert J. Lang.  In the center of the room were striking large flower sculptures made by the artist Megan Singleton from paper she created from lotus plants.  Fortunately, there is a catalogue of the exhibit available as a pdf.

When we went upstairs to the main gallery, my eyes immediately focused on the ceiling with its elaborate trompe d’oeil mural that resembles a conservatory roof with a trellised balcony filled with plants (see image above).  This is a refinished version of the original created by the Italian artist Leon Pomarede who had emigrated to St. Louis in 1831 and became known for his panoramas and landscapes.  Shaw commissioned him to create this work for the museum’s opening in 1859, and when it was repainted, some plants were added or rendered more botanically correct.  There are now 96 species represented, and they can be found on a story map.  But the mural is only the first of many wonders in the two-tiered main hall.  The museum was built in the style of one of the economic botany museum buildings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the major source of inspiration for Shaw in creating many aspects of his garden.

Early in his planning, Shaw got in touch with William Jackson Hooker, director of Kew, and among his queries was where he could find a botanist to assist him.  Hooker informed him that the perfect person for the job was already in St. Louis:  George Engelmann, a German physician who had arrived in St. Louis in 1835.  Engelmann had collected plants on several tours of his adopted land, and had made contact both with collectors like his countrymen Augustus Fendler and Ferdinand Lindheimer and botanists like John Torrey and Asa Gray.  Engelmann encouraged Shaw to not only create a garden that would delight the city, but also a research institution.  In the mid-19th century there weren’t models for such an enterprise in the United States, however, Kew fit the bill.  Shaw made several trips to Europe, and he also sent Engelmann to buy books for a botanical library.  While there Engelmann bought the 60,000 specimen herbarium of Johann Bernhardi, that was rich in tropical as well as European species.  Along with Engelmann’s own large herbarium collection, this became the foundation for MOBOT’s now nearly seven million specimens.

Since Hooker had created the first economic botany museum that eventually spread over four buildings at Kew, Shaw wanted such a facility as well.  As at Kew the glass-faced wooden cases on both levels of his museum were filled with specimens and plant products.  Now, the upper cabinets have a display of beautiful ceramics, but there is no public access because the balconies are fragile.  Hanging from the balcony railings are portraits of distinguished botanists of the past including, of course, Carl Linnaeus and also Engelmann and Gray.  On the main level at the time of my visit, most of the cabinets were filled with displays related to the paper exhibit, including copies of herbarium specimens for plants used in paper making, various paper products, and books on papermaking from MOBOT’s extensive library.  There were also two cabinets dedicated to the great Alexander von Humboldt to recognize the 250th anniversary of his death (see earlier posts, 1,2,3,4).

Behind the main hall is a smaller room, with a vaulted ceiling that had been covered over at some time in the past.  When the covering was removed, the restorers were surprised to find three painted panels, with small portraits of none other than Gray and Engelmann to either side of Linnaeus.  These have been beautifully restored.  This room held another portion of the paper exhibit; Michael Powell created abstract works in handmade paper, based on the colors of different areas within the garden, during the day and at night.  The entire exhibit on paper was a great way to introduce visitors to this extraordinary building, and the next exhibition is now open.  It’s focus is on the potato.  My heritage, like that of Wyse Jackson, makes me think that there couldn’t be a better subject.  Nezka Pfieffer develops this concept beautifully through art and the wonderful resources in MOBOT’s herbarium, library, and economic botany collections.

Note:  I would like to thank Nezka Pfeifer at the Sachs Museum for spending so much time guiding me through the museum and telling me about its history.

 

Herbaria and Display

2 Glasnevin

Antique display case for herbarium snpecimens at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevi, Dublin (Picture: Lafayette Photography)

One of the reasons given for the general public’s lack of knowledge about herbaria, is that herbaria are private places out of necessity.  Specimens can easily be damaged if moved too many times; more people in herbaria means a greater chance that insects will tag along and get into the collection; room is such a scarce resource in most herbaria that there just isn’t space for many visitors.  And then there is the idea that herbarium specimens are not exciting to look at:  they are brown, flat, plant “mummies.”  If most people are plant blind to leafy trees and brightly colored flowers, specimens are definitely not going to catch their eye.  However, more and more botanic gardens are countering this perception with intriguing exhibits that highlight specimens.  There was one at New York Botanical Garden in 2017 called “What in the World Is a Herbarium.”  It featured some extraordinarily beautiful sheets but also explained how plants are collected, pressed, dried, identified, and mounted.  The exhibit included a video on these aspects of creating a herbarium, tours of NYBG’s Steere Herbarium with over 8 million specimens, and even a course on how to create herbarium sheets.

Right now, the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland at Glasnevin has an exhibit, “Herbarium in Focus.”  Along with specimens, there are items from the economic botany collection including a cabinet with vertical pull-out frames with herbarium specimens (see image above).  I saw this on a visit to the garden several years ago and think there should be one available at every botanic garden, in the entrance building so visitors are reminded that many gardens have these hidden gardens as well.  The Manchester Museum and the World Museum in Liverpool are two British institutions that have drawn on their herbarium collections for a number of exhibits, both permanent and temporary.  I don’t have space here to mention many other endeavors to present herbaria without necessarily having large numbers of people trooping through them.  However, tours have definitely become more common and are often very popular—once people know that such treasures exist.

There are also more subtle links between herbaria and exhibits based on the dual aims of most natural history museums and botanic gardens:  research and display.  Many of these institutions in the US were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the diorama was becoming a popular display type.  In their most sophisticated form, dioramas are scenes of specific habitats with life-like ­­­taxidermied animals and equally realistic plants usually made of paper, wire, wax, and other materials.  While dioramas might seem the antithesis of herbaria—real versus artificial, 2-D versus 3-D—there is a relationship between research and display, and in the best cases, the two were coordinated.

A great deal of work went into planning and creating the dioramas, often including expeditions to areas of interest that included botanists and zoologists who collected specimens for their research as well as reference material for displays.  An artist was usually included as well, though in the case of E. B. Dahlgren, a Field Museum botanist, he played both roles.  He not only collected specimens but also created watercolors.  These were filed in the herbarium along with specimens, after the drawings were used in creating life-like plants for the Field’s Botany Hall.  It did not have dioramas, but rather elaborate displays about the biology and uses of plants.  The cases held plant models, information boards, wood specimens in the case of trees, and examples of products made from the plant in question.

Now renamed Plants of the World, the hall still exists, though it has been altered over time, and the wood specimens I mentioned in the last post came from material no longer on display.  Many of the displays have been updated, but the plants created for them remain beautiful and relevant.  Above the display cases are large panels painted in the 1930s presenting the plants in their native habits, often picturing indigenous peoples making use of them.  Other plants were created for the many full dioramas in other halls at the Field, where admittedly the animals draw the eye, but the plants and painted backgrounds are what create the scenes.  I recently also visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and they too have a beautiful botany exhibit with exquisitely made plant models, some in dioramas, some in explanatory vignettes.  Bonnie Isaac and  Mason Heberling of the museum’s botany department and herbarium are involved in keeping the exhibit fresh, and they have plans for doing just that in the near future.  But as with much redecorating, they are working with “good bones.”  The basics don’t need to be altered, just enlivened to draw viewers into this magic area of the museum.  The addition of a few herbarium specimens might be a nice touch.

Note: I would like to thank Christina Niezgoda at the Field Museum as well as Bonnie Isaac and Mason Heberling at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for sharing so much information with me on my visits to their institutions.

The Herbarium as Status Symbol

1a Sembertini

Fronticepiece from Sembertini herbarium at the Oak Spring Garden Library.

At this moment in history to impress a client or a patron, giving them a book of pressed plants would probably not be a great idea.  Times have changed, and there are many examples of presentation herbaria from the 17th to the 19th centuries when such collections did indeed earn brownie points for the presenter.  One particularly beautiful example is in the Oak Spring Garden Foundation Library.  The name of the creator has been erased from the elaborately decorated title page.  However, the person who sold the volume claimed to have deciphered the name as Carlo Sembertini (Tomasi & Willis, 2009).  From the watermarks on the paper, it was probably created about 1720 in Verona, Italy.  The second page is an ornate frontispiece with cherubs, a coat of arms, and at the bottom of the page, a landscape [see image above].  This is followed by a page dedicating the volume to a physician, Angelo Barberio, and another with poems praising him.  There is one more page before the index:  it is unfinished, with cherubs at the top and flowers at the bottom framing a blank middle section.  This is the first suggestion that the herbarium was never completed, and there are other clues throughout.

The table of contents begins with elaborate calligraphy of the word laudus, the Latin for praise, at the start of an alphabetical list of the plants; the same order is used throughout the book.  The species are named in Latin, with the page number given for each specimen.  There are usually several plants on a page, and at the end of the table entries for each letter, a space was left for further entries with names beginning with that letter.  There is also at least one blank page between the plants for each letter to accommodate more specimens.  At the end of the book are a couple of dozen blank pages, with a few unidentified plants tucked between them.  These clues suggest that the volume, still in its original tooled leather binding, may never have been presented to its intended recipient.  If that’s the case, it’s a shame because Dr. Barberio would surely have been impressed by the manuscript.

Each page has a five-line border in red and brown ink.  The specimens are of high quality and are very carefully mounted, often positioned symmetrically on the sheet [see image below].  They are pasted in place, and usually there is a piece of colored ribbon at the base of the stem—no dirty roots in this herbarium.  Most specimens are labeled with their Latin names, as in the table of contents.  The first letters are in red ink, the following letters in black, just as in the table.  The calligraphy is very carefully done; this was not a work dashed off in a hurry.  On a few pages the names are further decorated with scrollwork in red.  In some cases it appears that the writing was done first, then specimen pasted on it; in others, the writing seems to be fitted around the specimen.  I have spent some time with this volume and could spend a great deal more studying both its aesthetic and scientific aspects.  The plants are mostly those that would be accessible to and used by an Italian pharmacist.  Aesthetically, the book is in the old manuscript—pre-printing press—tradition.  Sembertini obviously wanted to impress Barberio by taking a great deal of time to produce such a work, perhaps too much time if it was left unfinished because either the maker or the recipient passed away.

1b Sembertini

Page from the Sembertini herbarium at the Oak Spring Garden Library.

I have to admit that despite all its flourishes, I was not impressed by this herbarium at first.  On my initial visit to Oak Spring Library I asked to see it and also another, even older, herbarium, that of the apothecary Johannes Harder, created around 1595.  I fell in love with the latter because of its age and the fact that most of the pages have body color additions of missing plant parts, such as flower petals, leaves, stems, roots, or bulbs (Tomasi & Willis, 2009).  I returned to Oak Spring several times to pour over it and forgot about Sembertini.  However, as I’ve done more work on the history of herbaria, I’ve thought about the different reasons they were created.  Harder’s was probably a way to show those coming to him for medicines, the plants from which these were prepared.  Sembertini’s had a different purpose, so was prepared differently.

As I began to consider these differences, I realized that I had pushed the Sembertini work the side precisely because it was so pretty.  But at the time it was produced, the concept of the herbarium as status symbol was not trivial in the world of plant collections, and natural history collections in general.  Carl Linnaeus’s patron, George Clifford, had elaborate little vases printed to paste over the bottom of stems and matching labels framed with elaborate scrollwork.  The poems in praise of Barberio also seem like an odd addition to a collection of dried plants, but poetry and botany have always been intertwined as the work of Erasmus Darwin later in the same century indicate.  The Sembertini was obviously worth a closer look.  I consider myself very fortunate to have spent some time with this volume.  My visit came on the first day of a trip to a number of libraries and herbaria where I saw many amazing examples of the varied reasons people press plants.  In the next post, I’ll examine a very different purpose.

References

Thijsse, G. (2018). A contribution to the history of the herbaria of George Clifford III (1685–1760). Archives of Natural History, 45(1), 134–148.

Tomasi, L. T., & Willis, T. (2009). An Oak Spring Herbaria: Herbs and Herbals from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries. Upperville, VA: Oak Spring Garden Library.

Note

I would like to thank Tony Willis, Kimberly Fisher, and Nancy Collins for their wonderful help on the many occasions I’ve visited the Oak Spring Foundation Library.

Orchids beyond Oakes Ames

Watercolor of Phalaenopsis grandiflora by John Day, in the Art Archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

As I’ve investigated Oakes Ames’s passion for orchids in writing the last three posts (1,2,3), I’ve become more interested in these plants myself.  Interested, but not obsessed, which may be the result of a gender bias.  In several items I’ve read, the male-centeredness of orchid fascination is noted.  In The Orchid Thief (1998) Susan Orlean writes that in 19th-century Britain  “the breeders, the botanists, the hunters, and the collectors, were all men.  Victorian women were forbidden from owning orchids because the shapes of the flowers were considered too sexually suggestive for their shy constitutions” (p. 75).  Orlean notes, however, that Queen Victoria herself was an orchid fancier; yet, male bias in the field seems to extend to the present day.  When Jon Dunn (2018) was developing his plan to see all the native orchids of Britain in one year, a female friend said she would be interested to find out how many women he encountered on this pilgrimage.  The answer was not many.

This masculine turn seems to extend to the plant’s very name, which is derived from the Greek word for testicle:  some species have twin tubers that resemble a pair of testes.  Orchid flowers can also be erotically suggestive, though more reminiscent of female rather than male genitalia.  But with over 50,000 orchid species, the flowers are suggestive of many things: monkey faces, insect rear ends, and bird beaks.  They also have a broad range of cultural connotations as discussed in two recent books.  Monsters under Glass (Desmarais, 2018) deals with hothouse flowers, so orchids are well represented.  This is despite the fact that in the mid-19th century, Joseph Paxton upended orchid horticulture when he argued that attempting to grow orchids in a hot, humid environment was fatal to these plants.  Most tropical orchids were epiphytes the grew up on tree limbs where the air was fresher, and also many of them were from mountainous areas.  What they needed was drier and less torrid conditions.  This did the trick.  Increased viability led to a surge in orchid enthusiasm in the latter part of the 19th century.  Still, orchids remained a symbol of the tropics, and of dark, rather forbidding jungles, as Jim Endersby (2016) discusses in his cultural history of orchids.

While Desmarais focuses on the literary, Endersby is more expansive and describes everything from the first image of a New World orchid, Vanilla planifolia, to Raymond Chandler’s (1939) mystery novel, the Big Sleep, that features a sinister orchid fanatic.  Endersby also brings up another notable piece of orchid trivia, James Bateman’s The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala that measured 30 by 22 inches and weighed 39 pounds, the largest botanical book with lithographic plates ever produced.  Many of the illustrations were created from watercolors by Sarah Drake, who was also a long-time artist for another orchid expert, John Lindley.

My favorite orchid painter is John Day, a businessman who eventually retired with enough money to dedicate himself to orchids, growing and breeding many himself.  Producing hybrids was a serious interest among many orchid breeders and remains so to the present day (Orlean, 1998).  They anxiously await the results of their crosses to see what forms and colors appear.  They have to be patient because it usually takes seven years or more for an orchid to grow from seed to flowering.  What makes Day interesting to me is that he produced 53 scrapbooks with 2800 pages of watercolor sketches.  He even got permission from Joseph Hooker to visit greenhouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew outside of visitor hours so he could paint undisturbed.  Kew now owns his drawings, which have been on display in one of their galleries (see image above), and there is also a book with many examples of his work (Cribbs & Tibbs, 2004).  I love to leaf through it because the sketches contain notes on the orchids’ characteristics and radiate a passion in the process of being fulfilled.  However, Day must not have considered his art satisfactory because he hired Cornelius Durham, a miniaturist, to paint 300 watercolors of his plants.

In a single post there is no way to do orchids justice.  They have such fascinating properties from luring pollinators by mimicking insect forms to usually having pedicels that twist their zygomorphic flowers in place, with the labellum or lip underneath the other petals.  Then there is the diversity of their habitats; some even live underground, have no chlorophyll, and derive nourishment from the roots of other plants or from fungi (Bernhardt, 1989).  The topic of the relationships between fungi and orchids is wide-ranging; orchids’ miniscule seeds can only flourish with fungal assistance, while other orchids parasitize fungi.  There is almost no subject in plant biology that doesn’t include fascinating information about at least a few orchids.  A recently described Brazilian species has flowers that are less than a millimeter  wide.  And don’t forget that even Charles Darwin wasn’t immune to their charms.  He was yet another 19th-century Victorian man who grew them, experimented with them, and wrote about them.

I’ll end with an orchid expert whose name comes up in many accounts of orchids, including Oakes Ames’s, and that’s Heinrich Reichenbach, one of the most noted orchid taxonomists of the 19th century, with John Day among others sending him plants to identify.  Reichenbach died in 1889, and his will stipulated that his herbarium be closed for 25 years, and only then could it be consulted.  Taxonomists were aghast at this prohibition, an apparent slap at Robert Allen Rolfe, a Kew botanist whom Reichenbach loathed.  In a letter to Blanche while he was on a trip to Europe with his assistants to visit other collections, Oakes Ames wrote of their amusing themselves with an idle discussion about breaking into the Reichenbach herbarium in Vienna.  Needless to say, they didn’t follow through, but Oakes was waiting at the door of the herbarium on the morning the collection finally opened for viewing (Garay, 2007).

References

Bernhardt, P. (1989). Wily Violets and Underground Orchids. New York: William Morrow.

Chandler, R. (1939). The Big Sleep. New York: Macmillan.

Cribb, P., & Tibbs, M. (2004). A Very Victorian Passion: The Orchid Paintings of John Day 1863-1888. London, UK: Thames and Hudson.

Desmarais, J. (2018). Monsters under Glass: A Cultural History of Hothouses Flowers from 1850 to the Present. London, UK: Reaktion.

Endersby, J. (2016). Orchid: A Cultural History. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Garay, L. (2007). The orchid herbarium of Oakes Ames. In Orchids at Christmas (pp. 41–50). Cambridge, MA: Botanical Museum of Harvard University.

Orlean, S. (1998). The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Obsession. New York, NY: Ballantine.