Mary Evans collection of the week: Florilegius

Large tortoiseshell, Nymphalis polychloros 1, small tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae 2, and comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album 3, with poppy. Vanesse grande tortue, Vanesse petite tortue, Vanesse gamma. Handcoloured lithograph from Musee du Naturaliste dedie a la Jeunesse, Histoire des Papillons, Hippolyte and Polydor Pauquet, Paris, 1833.     Date:

As its name suggests, Florilegius is positively blooming with an abundance of exquisite botanical illustrations, but there is much more besides.

The speciality of Florilegius, which belongs to collector Richard Jeffery, is high quality, antiquarian prints, engravings and lithographs ranging from the 18th to early 20th century.

Alongside plants and flowers are images covering other aspects of natural history, as well as costume, ethnographic and social scenes, games and pastimes, ancient sites such as Pompeii, trades, crafts, objects and decorative illustration, much of it rare and virtually all of it in glorious colour.

It’s a collection with an eclecticism that is typical of Mary Evans, whether you’re searching for eel fishing in Europe, Kyrgyz women in traditional dress, baboons, Bhutan monasteries, or just some beautiful, blowsy peony roses. If you think the previous centuries lived their lives in black and white, think again.

There are over 20,000 images in the fascinating Florilegius collection but you can click here to see some edited highlights.

Mary Evans Picture Library newsletter – 2 July, 2020.
Picture credit: ©Florilegius / Mary Evans Picture Library