Artists in Edwards’s Botanical Register

Edwards’s Botanical Register was a serial publication consisting of 19 volumes, plus an appendix that ran from 1829-1847 and was edited by John Lindley (1799–1865). This series was preceded by The Botanical Register, which was started and edited by Sydenham Teast Edwards (1768-1819) and ran from 1815-1828 for a total of 14 volumes.

Volumes 15 through 32 of Edwards’s Botanical Register have hundreds of beautiful illustrations that were printed from copper engravings; volume 33’s illustrations were produced from lithographs and hand-colored. Along with several others, both Lindley and Edwards produced illustrations for this series.

Like many natural history works, the artists are often uncredited in the actual text of Edwards’s Botanical Register, so determining the creator of the illustration requires careful examination of signatures on the individual plates, as well as research in reliable secondary sources. Interestingly, many of the artists who created a single illustration are named in the text; they often produced this artwork for Lindley who did not have access to the species, but a colleague of his did. This colleague sent along the scientific description, as well as the illustration to complement the text.

Seventeen artists are identified in the 19 volumes, and seven of these are women, with Sarah Ann Drake creating the vast majority of SciArt for this entire series. She produced an astonishing 1,160 plates of the total 1,407! Some of her gorgeous botanical art is included below.

The spreadsheet below lists all of the artists that I have been able to identify through extensive research, and I have added their names as tags to their artwork. For the identified artists, I have linked their names to their Wikidata item; Wikidata is a remarkable data repository that allows any researcher to connect to primary and secondary sources around the world. I have also linked each volume to its BHL Flickr album. This spreadsheet will update as I continue with my research.

  1. I have identified the artist of this work as Carl Julius Milde (1803-1875). The plate is signed as “C.J. Milde”, and the text for Plate 1882 states that Mr. Ecklon collected the seeds from the Cape of Good Hope and given to “Dr. Lehmann of Hamburgh [Germany]”, who sent along the illustration with the scientific description. Milde was a well-known artist, curator, and art restorer in Hamburg, who also created scientific illustrations in an amateur status. Given the name, dates, and location, I feel confident in this attribution.
  2. This plate is signed by “Mrs. A. H.”, and the text further elucidates the artist as “Mrs. Arnold Harrison”. Through genealogical research, I can confidently attribute this artwork to Elizabeth Harrison.
  3. This plate may be by artist may be Augusta Innes Withers; I need to complete further research to feel reliably confident in my attribution.

You may explore and enjoy all of the SciArt from Edwards’s Botanical Register in Biodiversity Heritage Library‘s Flickr collection. The Peter H. Raven Library of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden digitized this serial publication for inclusion in BHL.

Wouldn’t these look great hanging on a wall? These works of SciArt are part of the public domain, and everyone can download high resolution versions of these illustrations, along with many others, from Biodiversity Heritage Library! Learn more here.

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