Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower Artists' Books and the Natural World Elisabeth R. Fairman

Publication date:
09 Jun 2014
Yale University Press
248 pages: 260 x 210mm
250 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Highlighting an enduring interest in natural history from the 16th century to the present, this gorgeous book explores depictions of the natural world, from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books.  It examines the scientific pursuits in the 18th and 19th centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloguing of the natural world.  It also investigates the aesthetically oriented activities of self-taught naturalists in the 19th century, who gathered flowers, ferns, seaweed, feathers, and other naturalia into albums.  Examples of 20th- and 21st-century artists’ books, including those of Eileen Hogan, Mandy Bonnell, and Tracey Bush, broaden the vision of the natural world to incorporate its interaction with consumer culture and with modern technologies.  Featuring dazzling illustrations, the book itself is designed to evoke a fieldwork notebook, and features a collection pocket and ribbon markers.

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Find out more and explore a gallery of sample images on the YaleBooks blog

Elisabeth Fairman is senior curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Yale Center for British Art.

“A book in which science and art blissfully hold hands . . . [Its] wonderfully unruly heart . . . bolsters the notion that amateur field guides are living books . . . personal works, in the same way that Emily Dickinson’s poems are personal. . . . ‘Green Leaf’ is all about the joys of looking hard.”—Dana Jennings, New York Times

“Stunning . . . an astonishing array of works . . . showing us the ingenious ways artists observe and depict the natural world. The volume’s carefully orchestrated rhythm of images and words reveals Fairman’s fruitful collaboration with book designer Miko McGinty. Short texts, sprinkled throughout . . . offer lively commentary on the beautifully photographed plates.”—Brooke Hodge, Artforum

‘The sheer beauty of some of the watercolours, prints and paper-cuts is astounding. They make me long to sit for days in the Yale library and leaf through the other pages. And the book is flawlessly produced, right down to the pocket at the back to tuck your own cuttings in, and ribbon markers in Farrow & Ball hues.’—Augusta Pownall, The Spectator

Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower is more like an album: whimsical, eclectic and full of surprises.’—Susan Owens, World of Interiors

‘There’s something charmingly retro about this volume, which is deliberately designed to evoke an old-fashioned fieldwork book, complete with a pocket in the back for your own notes and specimens.’—Caroline Bugler, V&A Magazine

'Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower is a lavishly illustrated compilation of essays about the Yale Center for British Art. . . This beautiful tome. . . is a fine overview of a truly magnificent British obsession.’—Louise Fabiani, TLS

Shortlisted for the 2014 Authors' Club Book Prize

“An example of exquisite bookmaking”—Sara Evans, Art of the Times

“Elegantly designed . . . almost an artist’s book in itself . . . [and] an important contribution to the study of how artists see and depict nature through the medium of the book.”—Stephen J. Bury, Print Quarterly

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