The flower book (an assemblage of flower watercolors) became a popular pictorial genre for garden enthusiasts to visually document their plant collections in the seventeenth century. Due to their beautiful images and the lack of text, flower books are mostly labeled as objects of affluence and pleasure with little to no scientific value today. This project questions such a notion by considering two contributions integral to the early modern development of botany: a collector’s garden as a site of studying and an artist’s technical expertise to picture nature.
Using the perspectives of both the collector and the artist, this project emphasizes the intertwined nature of art and science in generating early modern botanical knowledge. By integrating methodologies typical for a historical research with new approaches in Digital Humanities and historical remaking, this project will explain the epistemic values of seventeenth-century watercolor flower books and their role in knowledge production in early modern Europe.