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Secret Life of Antiques | Beautiful Botanicals

CollectingBotanicalPrints

While spring is still a ways off, let’s do all we can to bring the beauty of nature inside! One sure fire way to do so is by displaying antique botanical prints.

This will be published in the March Issue of Romantic Homes Magazine coming out soon!

I always look for beautiful, hand colored engraved prints from the late 1800’s for my clients. Today, I’m sharing some of my “new”  favorites, all engravings of Orchids from the 1800’s.

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Drawn with meticulous attention to detail, and beautifully hand colored, antique botanical prints provide a connection to the outdoors that I especially cherish in these cold winter months.

The antique prints are also such an attractive way for any new collector to begin collecting art, antique botanical prints are much more affordable than most paintings and other art.

A group of antique botanical prints such as these are an inspired way to decorate your home, can’t you imagine how beautiful a group of these would be to bring the beauty of orchids to your room?

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HISTORY:  

Botanical illustrations originally appeared in herbal medicine books, natural history publications and seed catalogs.  The early botanical prints were instructive, in the 16th century, herbals {books filled with plants used for medicines} were copied by hand, often by monks, to aid physicians in the healing arts.

In the late 16th century, florilegia books filled with illustrations of flowers of every species were produced. Each artist took great care to draw each specimen from nature, adding birds, insects and other small animals to the illustrations.

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Flowers and plants were so immensely popular in the 17th and 18th century, that European nursery businessmen employed artists to draw and paint images of flowers and plants for big “albums” much like a nursery catalog you can get today. During the tulip-mania in the Netherlands, special tulip books were produced to exhibit the tulip bulbs available for purchase.

The golden age for botanical art was between 1750 and  the late 1800’s, when well-known botanical artists such as Jane Webb Loudon, Pierre Joseph Redoute and Anne Pratt painted thousands of illustrations of plant and floral life.  Avidly bought and cherished, natural science books and prints of flowers and plants were especially beloved as the world had a love affair with the natural world.

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During this romantic era, when plant hunters and botanical explorers brought back exciting and exotic plants and flowers from the European colonies and Asia, botanical drawings were used to show the newly discovered species in accurate, beautiful detail.  A wealth of botanical books were produced, interest in gardening thrived, and the development in color engravings and lithography advanced these botanical prints to true art form.

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WHAT TO COLLECT:  19th century botanicals are the most widely available, and often the best investment for a good price point.

1. Buy the Best Quality.  As always, buy the best quality you can afford. Age, condition and subject matter will affect a print’s value. Roses, peonies, tulips and orchids are the more popular subjects of antique prints, and will command higher prices than wildflowers. Most of the botanical prints available today were originally bound in books. They should be blank on the reverse side, and measure between 5”- 8” x 9”-10”.

2. Focus your Collection. Many collectors choose one type of flower, or plant species to build their collection on. You can build your collection with one type of specimen, or one color, or, if you just love all flowers and plants, a whole garden or meadow full of different ones!

3. Buy What You Love.  Buy images you want to live with. Buying prints that tug at your heartstrings, and prints that you think will look beautiful in your home will guarantee that you build a collection that personally speaks to you.  If you fall in love with the plant or flower, the colors, and the style of a botanical print, this is the one you should purchase.

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HOW TO PRESERVE AND DISPLAY YOUR PRINTS:

1.  If you have a large collection, a commercial studio flat file is the perfect way to store your prints. There are also antique cabinets or new metal art cabinets with wide shallow drawers for storing artworks and prints. These types of cabinets are ideal for larger collections, as they make it easy to keep your prints stored flat so that the edges won’t curl or tear.

2. Loose prints can also be stored in something called an archival Solander box, with acid free tissue. There are lots of companies that produce the Solander boxes. Handle the loose prints carefully, preferably while wearing white cotton gloves.

3. If you have a print matted and framed, take it to an experienced framer. Contact with acid-bearing mats and paper can do immense damage that will stain your print.

4. Be sure to keep the prints out of direct sunlight, this can cause damage to the ink as well as the paper. A UV filtering piece of glass or acrylic piece will protect prints if framed.

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Nurture you inner botanist by collecting botanical prints from the past, hunting for a rare treasure is part of the fun.

An affordable art form that combines your love of the garden with art that will grace the walls of your home, a collection of botanical prints looks stunning arranged in a gallery wall grouping.

A group of botanical prints brings spring closer, too, don’t you agree?

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Acquire our latest 19th century botanical prints.

8 Responses to Secret Life of Antiques | Beautiful Botanicals

  1. Lovely blog for this Saturday morning. Well written and informative, I am forwarding this to one of my clients that collects botanical prints! Thank you xx Pam

  2. Beautiful prints, Lidy. You can’t go wrong with botanicals in any room. Thank you for the history behind these beautiful illustrations!

    Jane x

  3. I so love antique botanical prints…the ones that I have seen in great condition can be rather pricey…I scour the books to see if botanical books are there…no luck yet!
    Thank you for another beautiful and informative post Lidy!

  4. Shirley, that is my dream, to uncover a book filled with them! The good botanicals can be pricey, but they are so gorgeous, and much less than same sized paintings would be!

  5. I love the botanicals also. I have a book by Pierre Joseph Redoute (the Most Beautiful Flowers). I was going to take some of the prints out and frame them but I could not do it to the book. You would love it. I do have some others hanging in my dinning room. Definitely buy singular prints that you can have framed. I agree they lift your spirits this time of the year when things outside are not the cheeriest.

  6. Gloria, that is such a gorgeous book! I can see why you would want to keep it intact.

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