Emily N. Roush '21, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Department 1



Botanical illustrations were an integral facet of botany in the Renaissance era. Many naturalists and physicians studied plants in collections to observe and record the naturalia. In many collections, specimens were displayed for visitors to draw and then create illustrations or prints. With an illustration, detail in plants could be captured and visually understood instead of learning through text. The great feature of illustrations was the fact that the specimens could be exotic yet still studied. Kusukawa says, “Pictures enabled scholars to access unobtainable objects, build knowledge of rare objects over time, and study them long after the live specimens had died away.” The illustrations were paired with text information about the plant and often distributed in herbal volumes. Herbal volumes were series of illustrations and knowledge published to spread knowledge. These botanical illustrations are samplings of three different 16th-17th century figures to record plants. [excerpt]

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Produced as part of a collaboration between Kay Etheridge's course FYS-188: Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance, and Felicia Else's course ARTH 284: Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.

Original version online at

Audio guide on botanical illustrations included.