The investigation of landscape, nature and ecology in contemporary art has its roots, in part, in the legacy of Romanticism and the search for man's place within the world.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Artist: Georg Dionysius Ehret

Georg Dionysius Ehret, 'American Turk's cap Lily, Lilium superbum', about 1750-3. Museum no. D.589-1886

Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-70)
American Turk's cap Lily, Lilium superbum
About 1750-3
Watercolour and gouache on vellum
Museum no. D.589-1886

Georg Dionysius Ehret was an outstandingly successful botanical artist with connections across Europe. This meant that he was well-placed to capture new species soon after they arrived on the continent from abroad. For example, the American Turk's-cap Lily illustrated here was studied in the garden of Peter Collinson, an important figure in the field of early botanical investigation.

Amongst Ehret's associates was the Swedish botanist Linnaeus (1707-1778), the first scientist to classify plants not according to the way people used them, but rather by the physical similarities between their reproductive parts.

The influence of Linnaeus's new system is apparent in each of these three works: whereas earlier illustrations had shown plants in their entirety, botanical artists were now beginning to privilege the reproductive elements - the flowers and the fruit - above other plant parts.

This print can be found in Print Room Box DP2 at the Victoria Albert Museum.

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