From The Smithsonian:
Botanical illustrations offer mesmerizingly detailed and vividly colored glimpses of the natural world. Now, reports Hakim Bishara for Hyperallergic, more than 150,000 such artworks are freely available for download via the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an open-access digital archive that preserves images and documents related to botany, wildlife and biodiversity.
Captured in watercolor paintings, lithograph prints and black-ink linework, the collected illustrations demonstrate the diversity of Earth’s wildlife as observed over hundreds of years. The BHL’s earliest texts date to the mid-1400s; its digital collection includes illustrations as recently created as the early 1900s.
The practice of creating detailed illustrations of flora and fauna, whether to document an expedition or a medical practice, gained popularity well before photography was up to the task. Even today, an illustration can offer more clarity than a photograph.
Link to the rest at The Smithsonian
PG says this might be another source for book covers, illustrations, promotions, etc.
Flora Graeca: “The Most Costly and Beautiful Book Devoted to Any Flora”
John Sibthorp’s Flora Graeca (1806-1840) has been described as “the most costly and beautiful book devoted to any flora” . Dedicated to the plants of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean, only 30 subscriptions for the first edition were sold and of those, only 25 were completed. While each copy was sold for £254, the cost to produce each copy was about £620 [2, 176].
Flora Graeca arose out of botanical expeditions carried out by English botanist John Sibthorp in Greece and Asia Minor between 1786-87 and 1794-1795. Sibthorp employed Austrian artist Ferdinand Lukas Bauer to accompany him on the first expedition and serve as illustrator. During the expedition, Bauer created around one thousand plant sketches, using a color coding process to record the exact colors of the specimens he observed in the field, allowing him to produce accurate final drawings based on his field sketches .
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Link to the rest at The Biodiversity Heritage Library