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Botanical Prints

Even the earliest humans had an interest in recording the natural world, as drawings of plants and animals can be found in early cave drawings around the world. Botanical illustration has a rich history, as scientists drew and compiled records of various species to further apothecary studies.

Printmaking techniques such as etching and engraving aided the documentation and distribution of these illustrations in encyclopedic books and textbooks for botanists to continue their studies. The role of printmaking in botanical studies is an important one, as the circulation of books educated the public about plants and mushrooms that cured or caused disease.

Botanical prints prior to the 19th century were often hand-colored, as a way to convey essential information about the plant. Hand coloring is pigment applied after the woodcut or engraved or etched print is created to capture detail and realistically represent the plants. Botanical subject matter remained linked to printmaking until photomechanical means of reproducing images became popular in the late 19th and 20th centuries. At this time, artists continued to create botanical prints, but purely for artistic purposes and enjoyment.


Quick Facts

  • One of the finest examples of botanical illustrated books is the English Botanist John Parkinson’s 1640 "Theatrum Botanicum," which contains woodcut prints of over 3,000 species of plants
  • The invention of the microscope at the turn of the 17th century helped to promote botanical printmaking, as scientists relied upon botanical illustrators to capture and disseminate their discoveries
  • Founded in 1994, the American Society of Botanical Artists is a group of over 1300 members dedicated to promoting botanical prints, paintings, and drawings in the traditional style that marries art, horticulture, and science

Recommended Items at Auction

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Shaw & Nodder - Lot of 14 Botanical and Insect or Entomology Engravings
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Shaw & Nodder - Lot of 14 Botanical and Insect or Entomology Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $500- $1,000
$854 Bids
Redoute, Rare, Large Folio - Rose; Rosa Gallica latifolia
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Redoute, Rare, Large Folio - Rose; Rosa Gallica latifolia
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1403 Bids
Van Houtte - Rose
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Rose
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$353 Bids
(4) Botanical prints, Trowbridge eglomise frames
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
(4) Botanical prints, Trowbridge eglomise frames
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$1253 Bids
Van Houtte - 5 Orchid Prints
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - 5 Orchid Prints
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$302 Bids
Risso - 4 Citrus Fruit Engravings
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Risso - 4 Citrus Fruit Engravings
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $500
$752 Bids
Van Houtte - Kaffir Lily
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Kaffir Lily
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$302 Bids
Group of 3 Regnault Botanicals
Mar 05, 12:00 PM EST
Group of 3 Regnault Botanicals
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $100- $200
$502 Bids
Pair Botanical Engravings, Frame: 23 1/2 x 20 in. (59.7 x 50.8 cm.)
Mar 05, 10:00 AM EST
Pair Botanical Engravings, Frame: 23 1/2 x 20 in. (59.7 x 50.8 cm.)
by Weschler's
Est: $30- $50
$152 Bids
Van Houtte - Begonia
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Begonia
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$251 Bid
Van Houtte - Begonias
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Begonias
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$251 Bid
Basilius Besler, hand-colored engraving, c. 1613
Mar 07, 10:00 AM EST
Basilius Besler, hand-colored engraving, c. 1613
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $600- $800
$3001 Bid
Van Houtte - Pair of Rhododendron Prints
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Pair of Rhododendron Prints
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$251 Bid
Van Houtte - Azalea
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Van Houtte - Azalea
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $200- $400
$251 Bid
Johann Weinmann, hand-colored engraving, 18th c.
Mar 07, 10:00 AM EST
Johann Weinmann, hand-colored engraving, 18th c.
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Original Watercolor of Flower & Butterfly
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CST
Original Watercolor of Flower & Butterfly
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $400- $800
$1001 Bid
Set of 4 Botanical Prints
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Set of 4 Botanical Prints
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
Orchid Garden I Canvas Reproduction
Mar 20, 9:00 PM EDT
Orchid Garden I Canvas Reproduction
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $595- $795
$3900 Bids
Withering (William). A Botanical Arrangement of all the Vegetables Naturally Growing, 2 vols., 1776
Mar 07, 10:00 AM GMT
Withering (William). A Botanical Arrangement of all the Vegetables Naturally Growing, 2 vols., 1776
by Dominic Winter Auctions
Est: £300- £400
£3000 Bids
Sweert (Emanuel). Four Botanical Engravings [1612 or later]
Mar 06, 10:00 AM GMT
Sweert (Emanuel). Four Botanical Engravings [1612 or later]
by Dominic Winter Auctions
Est: £150- £250
£1500 Bids
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #54 Hibiscus
Mar 16, 2:00 PM EDT
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #54 Hibiscus
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #35 Clove, Carnation, Rose
Mar 16, 2:00 PM EDT
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #35 Clove, Carnation, Rose
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #133 Rose
Mar 16, 2:00 PM EDT
After Pierre-Jospeh Redoute, Floral Print, #133 Rose
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Botanical Prints


Connoisseur Online

Connoisseur Online

Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books

Dominic Winter Auctions

Dominic Winter Auctions

Millea Bros Ltd

Millea Bros Ltd