"An Oak Spring Flora" by Lucia Tongiorgi       Tomasi

An Oak Spring Flora Flower Illustration from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Time: A Selection of the Rare books, Manuscripts, and Works of Art in the Collection of Rachel Lambert Mellon Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi

Oak Spring Garden Foundation Series
Publication date:
29 May 1997
Yale University Press
504 pages: 286 x 244mm
45 b-w + 147 color illus.

This is the latest volume in a major series that describes selections of the rare books, manuscripts, and other works of art held at Oak Spring Garden Library, a collection formed by Rachel Lambert Mellon. The 111 items chosen for this volume on floral illustration since the later Middle Ages include Books of Hours, still-life and vanitas paintings, botanical prints, and books of instruction of every kind, from planting a garden to making flowers using colored papers or wax.

Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi groups the works into chapters on such topics as florilegia, women artists, tulipomania, Dutch and Flemish painting, and exotic flowers from distant lands, providing an introduction to each chapter that gives the contextual background necessary for a real understanding and appreciation of floral illustration past and present. The sheer beauty as well as extraordinary skills encountered, for example, in manuscript florilegia by Jacob Marrel and Maria Sibylla Merian, in hand-colored books by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues and G.B. Ferrari, and in flower studies painted by John Constable, Margaret Mee, and others, are testament to the high status accorded floral illustration over the centuries.

This handsome, richly illustrated volume will attract all those with an interest in rare books and the history of art as well as horticulturalists, botanists, and garden historians.

Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi is a professor of art history at the University of Siena.

"This superbly illustrated and academic history of flower depiction covers floral still life in the Flemish and Dutch tradition, flowers from distant lands, florilegia, flower painters of our times, extraordinary women painters, and many other subjects. Reflecting a high level of scholarship and illustration. . . . This addition will be of interest to rare-book collectors, fine-arts historians, horticulturists, garden historians, and libraries strong in these subject fields. Highly recommended."?Library Journal

"A spectacularly produced volume on 111 works that are detailed and well illustrated. . . . Beautifully executed bibliographic and bibliophilic gems."?Taxon

"A gorgeously produced presentation of the Western Floral art conserved at Oak Spring in Uppervile, Virginia."?Betty Mackey, Horticulture

"Every reader will find new material, as well as an excellent collection of illustrations, since an unusually high proportion of the Oak Spring copies are finely coloured."?Brent Elliott, Garden

"Oak Spring Flora shows flower books at their most spectacular. It is a magnificent piece of book production?and, thanks to Mellons' generosity, an extraordinary bargain."?John Saumarez Smith, Country Life

"A magnificently illustrated, authoritative presentation of the art of flower depiction in the West comprising the third volume in a series of catalogues that describe the rare?and sometimes unique?books, manuscripts, and other works of art conserved at Oak Spring Garden Library."?Reference & Research Book News

"An Oak Spring Flora is the third gathering of rare books, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, engravings and objets d'art from the Oak Spring Garden Library. Lucia Tomasi . . . has selected more than a hundred items which she describes with academic precision within the context of cultural history. . . . This book, generously illustrated with 200 plates (almost all in colour) is a delight to handle and to read. It is a worthy successor to An Oak Spring Sylva and An Oak Spring Pomona. One looks with eager anticipation to the four volumes still to be published."?Ray Desmond, Garden History Journal

"One of the most splendid series of horticulture books to appear in recent years. . . . The series promises to become an indispensable part of the ever-broadening culture of gardens."?Martin Filler, House Beautiful

"Organized into thematic chapters that chronologically trace the development of flower illustrations over the past five centuries, An Oak Spring Flora, though intended as a digest of and guide to closer study of the books it includes, is also fully satisfying as a survey of its subject."?Martin Filler, House Beautiful (from same article as above)

"This sumptuous small folio volume is recommended to all libraries and collectors with an interest in rare books, fine art, gardens, horticulture and botany to name but five categories. . . . The degree of bibliographical and analytical detail provides a superb backdrop to the colour illustrations of the 'fragile timeless beauty' of the flora described. One can only express admiration for the original collector, the superb catalogue and textual description of the collection which now surrounds it. The final volume is a work of art in itself. This is American scholarship and book production at its best."?Colin Steele, Antiquarian Book Monthly