A Brief History of Botanical Art

by Jutta Buck

with Cynthia Rice

Contemporary botanical art grows from long established traditions, integrating the history of art and the sciences of botany, horticulture, medicine and agriculture.  Knowing this history adds to our pleasure in viewing botanical art today.  As artists our vision is expanded, and our skills enhanced by studying the work of our forebears.  For observers and collectors, appreciation matures with a greater understanding of the traditions and evolution of the genre.

This brief history is an introduction to the luminaries of the field, both artists and patrons, along with some of their illustrious work. It invites the reader to become even more familiar with the rich history of botanical art and its present-day incarnation.

Chapter 1 - Antiquity

Chapter 2 - Early Portrayal of Plants

Chapter 3 - Emergence of Naturalism

Chapter 4 - The Renaissance

Chapter 5 - Early Printing

Chapter 6 - Modern Age of Botany

Chapter 7 - The Groundwork of Modern Taxonomy

Chapter 8 - The Florilegium

Chapter 9 - Creation of Les Velins du Roi

Chapter 10 - Botanical Books of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Chapter 11 - Beginning of Modern Classification

Chapter 12 - Circle of Georg Dionysius Ehret

Chapter 13 - Early Nineteenth Century English Horticulture

Chapter 14 - The Era of Pierre Joseph Redouté

Chapter 15 - French Botanical Art Succeeding Redouté

Chapter 16 - Continuing the Tradition


  • Primula vulgaris, Red chalk on paper, Nicolas Robert, ca. 1650, from the collection of Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration at the Austrian National Library in Vienna.