By The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation
The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation invites you to view
Dangerous Beauty: Thorns, Spines and Prickles from September 18 to December 18, 2014. This exhibition includes artworks and books that depict the formidable and yet beautiful defensive structures of thorns, spines and prickles that have evolved to protect plants from predation. Featured are drawings, watercolors, prints and books displaying thistles, teasels, cacti, roses, berry brambles, stinging nettles and citrus trees.
The first step in appreciating these defensive structures is an understanding of what they are and how they differ from each other. In the most basic sense, thorns, spines and prickles can all refer to the sharp, stiff, woody defensive appendages found on some plants. Thorns are modified stems, as in Citrus Linnaeus. Spines are modified leaves, as in Echinocactus Link & Otto. Prickles differ in that they emerge from the epidermis, mesophyll or cortex of the plant, as in Rosa Linnaeus. Examples of these structures will be depicted in a variety of ways, from detailed scientific illustrations to loose interpretations, but all showing how beautiful these structures can be.
Left, Citron: Citrus medica [Citrus medica Linnaeus, Rutaceae], watercolor on paper by Marilena Pistoia (Italy), [pre-1984], 35 × 25.5 cm, for Laura Peroni, Il Linguaggio del Fiori (Milan, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1984, p. 53), HI Art accession no. 6773.20, © 1984 Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milan, All rights reserved.
Center, Teasel [Dipsacus Linnaeus, Dipsacaceae], watercolor on paper by Celia Crampton (Africa/England), 2003, 37 × 28 cm, HI Art accession no. 7586,
© 2003 Celia Crampton, All rights reserved.
Right, Rosa canina L. [Rosa Linnaeus, Rosaceae], watercolor on paper by Petr Liska (Czech Republic), 1981, 24 × 16.5 cm, HI Art accession no. 6463, © 1981 Petr Liska, All rights reserved.
Artists represented are Marie Angel (England, 1923–2010); Diana Carmichael (United Kingdom/South Africa, 1926–2010); Louis Claude de Chastillon (France, 1639–1734); Celia Crampton (Africa/England); Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden (United States, 1907–2007); Raymond Dowden (United States, 1905–1982); Georg Dionys Ehret (Germany/England, 1708–1770); Henry Evans (United States, 1918–1990); Alejandro Gavriloff (Estonia/Argentina, 1914–1993); Lucretia Hamilton (United States, 1908–1986); Charlotte Hannan (Germany/United States); Jeanne Russell Janish (also Mrs. Carl F. Janish; United States, 1902–1998); Christabel King (England); Carl Ignaz Leopold Kny (Germany, 1841–1916); Paul Landacre (United States, 1893–1963); Dorika Leyniers de Buyst (Belgium); Chrissie Lightfoot (England); Petr Liska (Czechoslovakia); Stanley Maltzman (United States); Yoshikaru Matsumura (Japan, 1906–1967); Roderick McEwen (Scotland, 1932–1982); Joan McGann (United States); Jeni Neale (also Jeni Barlow; England); Gunnar Normann (Sweden, 1912–2005); Marilena Pistoia (Italy); Frantisek Procházka (Czechoslovakia, 1911–1976); Pierre-Joseph Redouté (Belgium, 1759–1840); Elizabeth Rice (England); Nicolas Robert (France, 1614–1685); Christian Schkuhr (Germany, 1741–1811); Geraldine King Tam (United States); Gesina B. Threlkeld (Netherlands/United States); Unknown artist (Mexico, fl.1787–1803), Torner Collection of Sessé & Mociño Biological Illustrations; Unknown artist (United States, fl.1900s), USDA Forest Service Collection; Frederick Andrews Walpole (United States, 1861–1904). A selection of rare books from the Hunt Institute Library collection also is included in this exhibition.
Join us Thursday, September 18, 2014 from 5–7 PM for an opening reception. At 5:30 PM Assistant Curator of Art Carrie Roy will give a short introduction to the exhibition in the gallery. We will also open on Saturday, October 11, 1–4 pm, during Carnegie Mellon University’s Cèilidh Weekend festivities. Docent–led tours will be available throughout the afternoon.
Cabinet of Curiosities
During Fall 2014, The Hunt’s Cabinet of Curiosities will highlight books from the Library’s collection featuring plants with thorns, spines and prickles. Humans are often undeterred by these sometimes pain-inducing plant features, finding that their sharpness can serve a purpose or that the plant is useful despite the pricks and jabs one might incur. Visit the Cabinet in the library’s lobby to explore how these plants have been utilized.
The exhibition will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and will be open to the public free of charge.
Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 AM to Noon and 1–5 PM; Sunday, 1–4 PM (except November 23 and November 27-30). Because hours are subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm. For further information, contact the Hunt Institute at 412-268-2434.
About the Institute
The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.
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