3 Feb 2015

Rich Pickings

Along the centuries, botanical art has purported observation for both science (natural history) and art, transporting its visual accounts as an ode to posthumous posterity, capturing in its intricate minutiae the wonders of nature, conveying the bounties of exotic beauty in their oozing abundance and fertile overtones.

Renowned and respected 19th century artists like Martin Johnson Heade and Alfred Edmund Brehm had a field day recording testimonies of a fragile Eden in Tropics close or remote that have since been either compromised, endangered or - more radically - eradicated off the surface of the earth. In a strange twist of irony, the contemporary viewer surrenders to the beauty that was surrendered to human covet.


Sources: (1 - 3) Martin Johnson Heade. (4 - 6) Alfred Edmund Brehm. (1) 'Ruby Throat of North America', oil on canvas, 1865, by American artist Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), via The Athenaeum. M.J. Heade depicted seascapes, salt marshes, and tropical birds, as well as lotus blossoms and other still lifes. (2) 'Cattleya Orchid, Two Hummingbirds and a Beetle', oil on canvas, 1875-1890, id., via The Athenaeum. (3) 'Heliodore's Woodstar and a Pink Orchid', oil on canvas, circa 1875-1890, id. via The Athenaeum. (4) 'Ausländische Cikaden', from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm’s Animal Life), volume 9, by German zoologist and illustrator Alfred Edmund Brehm (1829-1884), Leipzig and Vienna, 1893-1900. Image downloaded from Imgkid.com, with caption from Unnaturalist. Original source document: Archive.org. (5) 'Two-Toed Sloth', from Brehms Tierleben, id., volume 2. Image downloaded from Old Book Illustrations. Original source document: Archive.org. (6) 'A Spring Day in the Life of Insects', from Brehms Tierleben, id., volume 9. Image dowloaded from Old Book Illustrations. Original source document: Archive.org.

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