One of the earliest modern watercolors is a botanical work: Albrecht Dürer’s The Large Piece of Turf (1503, 21x13cm), made with watercolor and gouache, traces each blade with the precision of renaissance silverwork or embroidery, yet lets the life of the grass shine through.


The word florilegium originally meant a collection of flowers, but now has come to mean a collection of botanical paintings.


The word applies especially to:


Botanical Illustration is one of the oldest watercolor genres, associated throughout its history with the importance of plants to human health, recreation, and appreciation of beauty. Today it is one of the few art genres that unites watercolorists around the world in a shared love of nature and a common set of painting methods and pictorial conventions.


Botanical symbolism has its origin in the literature of antiquity, where plants are often used in metaphors for virtue and vice. In classical mythology, human beings are transformed into plants as a reward or punishment, as in the story of Narcissus, the vain youth who fell in love with his own reflection and was changed into a flower that bears his name. Certain plants are also mentioned as attributes of gods and goddesses: grapes for Bacchus, god of wine, and corn or wheat for Ceres, goddess of agriculture. Classical texts on farming and natural histories by Pliny, Cato, and Lucretius also recorded some of the traditional lore associated with plants. Many of these ideas and associations were passed on to scholars and artists during the Renaissance, a period of revived interest in classical texts.

from: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bota/hd_bota.htm

37 replies on “Florilegium”

Thanks for this. It’s exciting. I’ve been working with the process by which landscape art became landscape painting, and the one by which botanical gardens gave us universities, and how it then works backwards, but I absolutely missed this more detailed angle. Fantastic! Thanks a million. Here’s a few of my musings that I’m going to try to fit this new idea into (this is a post on the botanical garden in Jena): http://wp.me/p1STFY-mu I also made the observation in the East Fjords of Iceland about how natural gardens, sorted by water and light, could have helped give Linnaeus his inspiration: take that to the system of the garden in Jena and the rest is history. You have inspired me to look into that further.


I am.pleased you like it.Your Jena post is what interests me I like it.Landscape has to morror in BG and vice versa in means of offering us posibility to learn .Art.should be part of this process .
All.the best


Thank you! For me Durer’s pencil and ink drawings are something to learn from-even today!


Hello, Thanks for liking my post “Whether the Weather” on

I enjoyed your post very much.
I love Botanical prints and we are creating a little gallery of plant related artwork here at the Greenhouse.


[…] I am passionate art and nature lover. As I work for the third age university I got the opportunity to develop a new field of education for our seniors-my idea was to start the senior garden volunteers program. I find it intriguing for this program is not only a bond between education and nature, but it mirrors connections between society, ecology, development, individuality. My wish is to start an inter generational project with our senior garden volunteers. So this blog is also about topics dealing with importance of botany education, senior learning,inter generational learning, ecology,garden volunteers, art. Because, as I have mentioned before-it is blog about My Botanical Garden. […]


Durer was an absolute genius, an incredibly prolific artist. He had a work ethic that was just unbelievable. Rousseau was another one who could paint nature like nobody’s business. Apparently he used 300 shades of green. It’s so great that we can see all these wonderful paintings at the click of a mouse.


Thank you for visiting my blog and liking Coniferous Concepts. I love how artists/scientists used to capture nature in drawings and paintings. It’s quite beautiful. Nice to meet you Tamara. Y 🙂


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