The Medieval Flower Book

Front Cover
British Library, 2007 - Art - 128 pages
In our modern world, the spiny-stemmed flowers, intertwined leaves, and delicate pink blossoms of the rubus fruticosus, or common blackberry bramble, might catch the eye of the casual observer or weekend gardener. Pleasant, prolific, and decorative, plants like the blackberry are looked upon as sources for harvest, landscape, and visual pleasure. To the medieval and Renaissance artist, however, these botanicals were far more. Part of a richly symbolic visual language culled from the classical era, their exquisite depiction in illuminated manuscripts of the age evoked fertility, conjured bad dreams, and even aligned itself with ancient wisdom. The popular and enduring appeal of flowers in medieval art and literature extended beyond simple botanical illustration; instead, flowers helped to tell countless stories without words through potent symbolic imagery.
The Medieval Flower Book artfully presents an alphabetical collection of over 100 of the major flowers that appear in medieval manuscripts—gathered with fascinating explanatory texts on their history, significance, and usage. Strikingly illustrated, the sumptuous reproductions that accompany each entry offer a visual reference to the symbolism of botanicals in medieval manuscripts that’s beyond breathtaking in its appeal. An introductory section explaining the ancient roots of practical horticulture’s expansion into cultural and spiritual realms not only places the volume in the context of gardening history, but gives the general reader insight into our enduring interest in these remarkable herbals.

Widely appealing to all of those interested in flowers and gardening, the horticultural historian, and the student of visual culture and medieval history, The Medieval Flower Book is a fascinating and important primer on the beauty and language of florals. Extensively ranging through the canon of medieval botanicals—from acanthus and anemones to violets and wallflowers—this volume is the perfect gift for anyone interested in blossoms and blooms, and should thrill the everyday gardener and art collector alike.

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About the author (2007)

Celia Fisher is the author of Flowers and Fruit, Still Life Paintings, and Flowers in Medieval Manuscripts.

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