This exhibition places work of the past from the Marciana Library alongside contemporary paintings and drawings from the Shirley Sherwood Collection.
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Shirley Sherwood and Dr. Stefania Rossi Minutelli and with advice from Prof. Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi, Pisa.
In the past Venice was an important port of entry for new plants into Western Europe.
They might be grown for food, herbal medicine or to add glamour to important gardens. These new introductions were portrayed by artists who combined scientific exactitude with an intense appreciation of beauty and the wonder of discovery. This "Golden Age" of botanical art reached its peak during the 18th and 19th centuries, when books of beautiful prints became more widely available. The Marciana Library has a selection of these books, never exhibited here before.
The last twenty years has seen a rebirth of botanical art - a second flowering. This renaissance is worldwide, with contemporary artists in England, Australia, Brazil, Japan and many other countries, drawing wonderful portraits of plants, both familiar and unusual.
Today's artists show the same intensity of vision as in the past but may now be recording endangered species that will never be seen again, rather than new discoveries. Some approach their subject using traditional techniques, others are branching out into new interpretations.
Dr. Shirley Sherwood started collecting in 1990 and now has the most comprehensive selection of contemporary botanical art in the world. The examples shown here are by 53 artists working in 17 different countries. The current renaissance seems to have been triggered on two fronts. One is a response to today's environmental, "green" anxieties, with more and more species threatened with extinction. The other is the desire to return to representational studies, where artists start by painting flowers and then fall in love with their subject - as artists have so often done in the past.
Sponsored by: Comune di Venezia - Direzione Civici Musei, Assicurazioni Generali and Save Venice.
Press Office: Dr.ssa Annalisa Bruni (tel. 0039.041.2407241: fax: 0039.041.5238803; e-mail: bruni @marciana.venezia.sbn.it)