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Michigan State University

Vibrant Treasures: Botanical Illustrations from the 16th to 20th Centuries: Hooker and Berlèse

This guide provides more information about the plant-centric illustrations, herbals and books displayed in the exhibit in the MSU Libraries Special Collections Department Reading Room, March-May, 2011.

Hooker's Exotic Ferns

Filices exoticæ; or, Coloured figures and descriptions of exotic ferns, chiefly of such as are cultivated in the Royal gardens of Kew. Sir William Jackson Hooker, 1785-1865, the drawings executed by Mr. Walter H. Fitch, 1817-1892. London, L. Reeve, 1859.

William Hooker was one of the preeminent botanists of his day and was the first director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew after its revival as a national institution in 1840. Filices exoticae is an expression of Hooker’s longstanding interest in ferns and is one of several books on ferns published late in his life. It was published in 12 parts, 1857-1859 and contains 100 plates depicting ferns as they were cultivated in the Royal Gardens of Kew.

Berlèse's Camellias

Iconographie du genre Camellia ; ou, Description et figures des camellia les plus beaux et les plus rares: peints d'après nature dans les serres et sous la direction de M. l'abbé Berlèse. Lorenzo Berlèse and J. J. Jung. Paris: H. Cousin, 1841.

Camellias reached their maximum popularity in Europe between 1825 and 1870, during which period an immense number of seedlings obtained by crossing variants of Camellia japonica were raised and named, mostly by the Abbé L. Berlèse and the Belgian nurserymen Alexandre and Ambroise Vershaffelt. The Abbé Berlèse was an Italian priest, born at Campo Molino, near Treviso, north Italy, who went to Paris as a chaplain. He there became very interested in camellias, brought together a large collection of the living plants, studied them carefully and described them in detail, this work being the most important of his publications. The highly finished plates were drawn by J.J. Jung from the varieties growing in the gardens and hothouses of Berlèse, engraved by Duménil, Gabriel and Oudet and printed by N. Rémond.

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