The current exhibition in the European works on paper rotation space (on view until December 3) is The Temple of Flora. The show features fifteen large-scale color prints from the illustrated book The Temple of Flora. They reflect the true passion of English doctor John Robert Thornton: botany. In honor of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), Thornton hired eminent artists to produce the engravings, envisioning a series of seventy plates. The extreme cost of hiring top artists to create such labor-intensive prints, however, resulted in the creation of only thirty-three plates, which he released individually between 1799 and 1812. Learn more about what makes these prints so unique with today’s post.
Giving a bouquet of flowers to your sweetheart? You’d probably agree, that’s very romantic!
It makes sense, then, that the prints of flowers from the series known as The Temple of Flora would be Romantic, too, right? Well, kind of.
Notice that I wrote Romantic, with a capital “R”. What does that mean?
Romanticism is one of those “isms” that art historians like to use. These terms provide general information about the style and context of an artwork. They offer guidelines for further exploration. For example, in an earlier post, we learned about the style called Mannerism. Romanticism, like Mannerism, is more complicated than a single term suggests but provides a good starting point.
So, let’s take a closer look at The Temple of Flora and see how these flower prints are Romantic.