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Botanical Sketchbooks

Helen Bynum, William Bynum


A visual compendium of botanical sketches, many specially photographed, providing a revealing insight into the immediate responses of artists encountering the glories of the plant world

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While highly finished drawings and paintings frequently feature in histories of botanical art, the preparatory sketches, first impressions and creative thoughts on paper behind them are rarely seen and have often remained hidden and locked away.

Botanical Sketchbooks brings these personal and vividly spontaneous records gloriously back into the light. In a series of biographical portraits organized thematically into four sections, the book illuminates a range of intriguing characters, from many different countries and cultures, including Germany, France, Italy, America, Australia, Japan and China. Sketchbooks proper are joined by notebooks, journals, albums, loose pieces of paper, works on vellum, manuscripts, letters, herbarium sheets and marginalia – even one drawing on the back of an envelope.

Turning the pages of this book will be an invitation to relive extraordinary experiences, imagine lost worlds, and be immersed in the endeavours, observations and motivations of the makers of such beautiful and enchanting art.

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'A pure delight … filled with fascinating facts as well as exquisite drawings'
The Reckless Gardener

Daily Telegraph

'A portfolio of beauty'
Times Higher Education

'A tour of not only the natural world, but also the human imagination'
House & Garden

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 26.6 x 20.6 cm

Extent: 296 pp

Illustrations: 275

Publication date: 17 August 2023

ISBN: 9780500297186

Contents List

Introduction: The Compulsion to Record
I. Making Art
II. Doing Science
III. Made on Location
IV. A Pleasing Occupation

About the Author

Helen and William Bynum are historians of science and medicine, and also have a particular interest in gardening and plants and their importance in human culture and society. They have written or edited numerous books, including Great Discoveries in Medicine and Remarkable Plants, both published by Thames & Hudson.