For my current project I’m researching European medicinal books going back to the 1400s. These herbals are among the earliest secular books printed in Europe. Their content often dates back to antiquity and ancient Arabic manuscripts. The earliest printed herbals seem to float somewhere between ancient European knowledge, and folklore and the dawn of modern scientific inquiry. For me, the images in these books remind me that plants arrived here first. They deserve our protection and respect. Acknowledgments below.
Series II – 1499 CE Water Lily Pond
A study for a larger project I am working on this fall. This woodcut of a water lily (above) was first printed in Germany in the 1499. Likely, the woodcut is based on a drawing made in Italy.
The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerard was printed in 1597 in London. Pictured below the garden crocus (Crocus Sativus) and the Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) which is native to Canada. Other flowers I worked with include the native Canadian wildflower Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis). I start with a wood engraving from the Herbal and continue with my own photos to make more abstract images. All prints are 8×10 and produced on a riso printer on Mohawk paper.
Some key sources for this project:
Arber, Agnes. Herbals: Their Origin and Evolution. A Chapter in the History of Botany 1470-1670. Cambridge University Press, 1912.
Tomic, Milena. Course materials: The History of Printmaking, OCADU, Toronto, ON. 2020
Wicks, Tristan. Latin translations and project feedback.