Hunt Institute for
Carnegie Melllon University
Sept. 21 – Dec. 16, 2012
The Hunt Institute would like to extend to you, this invitation to view Portraits of a Garden!
This exhibition at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation in Pittsburgh, PA will showcase the work of 48 American botanical artists who are revitalizing the centuries-old tradition of the florilegium by creating a lasting archive of watercolors and drawings of the plants growing at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). This selection of original artwork, on loan from the BBG’s permanent collection, will be displayed with a sampling of historical printed volumes representative of the florilegium tradition from the Hunt Institute’s Library collection.
In October, four botanical artists from the Pittsburgh area will demonstrate watercolor techniques used in botanical art. On Saturday October 6, Sue Wyble and Donna Edmonds will demonstrate a method of layering a limited palette of transparent watercolors to achieve a variety of colors. On Sunday October 7, Carol Saunders and Christine Hutson will demonstrate various wet and dry brush techniques, including limning, used to achieve fluid color and intricate form. Demonstrations will occur in the gallery. Visitors to the gallery will also have the opportunity to speak with a curator about the exhibition.
The Florilegium Tradition
By the 17th century, the introduction of rare and exotic plants through voyages of exploration created an interest in cultivating these new plants for the garden. This was accompanied by the development of many new varieties of common garden plants. Botanical gardens, initially developed in the 16th century to supply plants for medicinal use and to educate physicians, apothecaries and botanists, expanded their collections to include these plant introductions for scientific and horticultural study. Royalty and wealthy land owners also desired these new plants for inclusion in their extensive estate gardens and often commissioned artists to paint or draw the plants in their collections.
In the late 20th century, there was a resurgence of interest in the florilegium tradition by botanical artists, botanical and horticultural librarians and horticulturists at botanical and country estate gardens in England, the United States and Australia. Paintings created by florilegium artists are used for scientific study and for exhibitions that introduce the public to the importance of botanical art, gardens and herbaria.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium Society
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium Society, established in 2000, was modeled after the florilegium formed five years earlier at Chelsea Physic Garden, London. The botanical artists working with the society have each been invited to produce a determined number of paintings of plants from the garden for the archive. They are creating a record of the BBG collections, including native, tropical and horticultural plants that are grown in the themed gardens and conservatory. Curators assist the society’s collectors with cuttings, and the collectors then arrange for the shipment of the plant and communication of important plant information. In addition, a dried specimen of the same plant is collected and cataloged as part of the BBG’s 250,000+ herbarium collection.
Selections from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Florilegium collection have been exhibited biennially at the garden and also at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem.
You are invited to view selections from the collection this Fall when they are on exhibit at The Hunt.
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