Friday, April 21, 2023

The Philosophy of Botany

A detailed engraving of a sunflower next to a sunflower seed.As spring creeps in, we're taking a look at some of the more exuberant botanical books in our collection. Today, it's Robert John Thornton's 1799 The Philosophy of Botany, This volume contains an exploration (lavishly illustrated) of the different kinds of seeds one can observe in nature, the casings those seeds tend to come in, and the transformation of a seed into a plant. Later in Philosophy, the focus shifts to cross-sections of roots and branches. The illustrations become increasingly geometric and abstracted in attempting to show their audience a microscopic view of plant structure, until at the end they snap back out and devote several pages to recognizable, whole plants.

To see something lovely, come in and ask for Rare Book QK92 .T5 1799.

A series of engravings depicting various types of seeds.A cross-section of the root of a sunflower.A bean plant germinating from three different angles.