Prior to photography, artists captured flowers, seeds, plants, fruits, vegetables, trees and leaves with exquisite detail. These images were created for scientific and aesthetic reasons, and tapped into the public thirst for knowledge and beauty in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Horticultural illustration advanced hand-in-hand with printing technology. Woodcuts evolved into engravings and lithographs. These illustrations were published singularly, and in books and periodicals. Many are still being reproduced today.
The great names are Basilius Besler (1561-1629, a German botanist who studied a bishop's garden), Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840, official court artist of Queen Marie Antoinette), and William Curtis (1746-1799, who worked at Kew Gardens and published the Botanical Magazine). However, there are countless other artists of importance, especially from the prolific Victorian era. Prices for prints can vary from $10,000 to less than $10 depending on age, condition, artist and scarcity.