Obviously I love botanical art and I have a lot of books with botanical art in them. So I am considering a series of book reviews and quick peeks covering books containing botanical art. For copyright reasons I am uneasy about reproducing actual artwork, though a picture of the book cover would seem to be ‘fair use’, even if it does not give a true flavour of the book.
I am starting with the oldest series of books in my collection. Kew gardens published ‘Drawings of British Plants’ over a long period from the late 1940s until the 1970s. This aimed to feature simply botanical drawings of the entire native British flora (except grasses) in 31 inexpensive paperback volumes. All of the illustrations, some 1300, were produced by the late Stella Ross Craig often at the astonishing rate of two per week.
I am in awe of the skill shown in these drawings, and the detail considering the speed at which the artist worked.
Stella Ross Craig passed away in 2006 only a few weeks short of her 100th birthday.
The drawings were often done from dried specimens in the Kew herbarium, yet the life in the drawings belies this.
I am dedicating this post to Lisa, who I think would absolutely love these drawings.
I first saw these books in the library at work 20 years ago and loved them then but they were long out of print. Two years ago a friend offered me the first 23 volumes and of course I gratefully accepted. With subsequent purchases I am now only missing a few. In these days of online antiquarian book dealers it is still possible to track them down.
Here is an example of one of the drawings.
Here is the Marsh Helleborine alongside my own pic of the real thing: