Published: September 26, 2006
The New York Botanical Garden will present “Buried Treasures: The Nature and Art of Bulbs,” an exhibition in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of prints and artwork featuring flowering bulbs on view October 7–January 7.
Illustrated folios, some dating back as far as the Seventeenth Century, and original artwork from the holdings of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library will be showcased. Among the superb historical illustrations on display will be Basilius Besler’s striking and intricately detailed 1713 copperplate engraving of a crown imperial fritilliaria and a hand colored lithograph of a crinum lily published in 1830–32 from a drawing by Vishnupersaud.
The exhibition will also include masterpieces of botanical art by renowned artists such as Georg Dionysius Ehret, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, and Walter Hood Fitch. Media in the exhibition will include engravings (hand colored, copperplate and colored stipple) as well as lithographs and watercolors.
Kim Tripp, PhD, Director of the New York Botanical Garden, said, “This exhibition will celebrate the lush beauty of flowering bulbs, in a cross-section of some of the most visually ravishing works of art, rare books and other treasures in the Mertz Library. The artwork spans more than three centuries and chronicles many gorgeous garden plants, from the ornamental to the culinary.”
The exhibition in the William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery will be of particular interest to home gardeners. It will include both well-known and unusual bulbs available for outdoor use to the home gardener in the Northeast, and will illustrate other practical uses of these beautiful and versatile plants. The opening of the exhibition coincides with the traditional fall planting season for next spring’s flowering bulbs.
“Buried Treasures: The Nature and Art of Bulbs” will begin with scientific illustrations that help distinguish a true bulb from a corm, rhizome or tuber. Successive display cases will feature bulbs used for medicine and food — from onions, garlic and shallots to tubers such as potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes — as well as flowering bulbs used for fragrance and for bouquets.
Further themes will include deer-resistant bulbs and bulbs that flower in the autumn rather than spring, and native bulbs, the early harbingers of spring in woodlands and welcome additions to gardens.
The historical role of bulbs will be explored, including a glimpse into the Seventeenth Century Dutch bulb craze known as “tulipomania,” perhaps the first documented instance of irrational exuberance in the marketplace.
Also the exhibition will celebrate the sheer aesthetic beauty of bulbs, displaying several of the most resplendent botanical folios ever created, including Georg Dionysius Ehret’s stunning illustration of “Lilium foliis sparsis” in Christopher Jacob Trew’s “Plantae selectae” (Nuremberg, 1750–73).
The curator of the exhibition is writer, lecturer, garden consultant and bulb aficionado Judy Glattstein.
Docents will offer guided tours of the exhibition, which will also be accompanied by an illustrated checklist.
The New York Botanical Garden is at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road in the Bronx. For information, www.nybg.org or 718-817-8700.
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