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Books about Art & Nature

A color plate from Catesby’s “Hortus Europae Americanus: Collection of 85 Curious Trees and Shrubs

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art welcomes all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.

Our unique mission extends to the Museum Library’s collection development policy, as well, and accordingly the library has variety of books relating to art and nature.

A color plate from Catesby's Hortus Eu

A color plate from Catesby’s “Hortus Europae Americanus”

First are the many rare 19th-century America color illustrated books. A few examples include: William P.C. Barton’s A Flora of North America, 1823; Jacob Bigelow’s American Medial Botany, 1817-1821; Mark Catesby’s Hortus Europae Americanus: Collection of 85 Curious Trees and Shrubs, the Produce of North America. . . , 1767.

"Childs: Rare Flowers, Vegetables, and Fruits" (Magazine front cover). 1896 nursery magazine.

“Childs: Rare Flowers, Vegetables, and Fruits” (Magazine front cover). 1896 nursery magazine.

Trade publications such as our seed catalogs of beautifully colored fruits, vegetables, trees, and shrubs such as those highlighted in the online exhibition Fruit-Full” Arkansas: Apples are also wonderful examples of the merging of art and nature.

Less well known botanical illustrations are evident in the lovely book bindings and beautiful color plate illustrations in 19th century gift books.

Next, a simple keyword search in our library catalog for “art and nature”(no italics) returns 146 titles including books like: Knowing nature: art and science in Philadelphia, 1740-1840, 2011 by Amy R. Meyers and Lisa L. Ford; Manifest destiny, manifest responsibility: environmentalism and the art of the American landscape, 2008 by Peter John Brownlee, Michael S. Hogue, and Angela L. Miller, and the catalog accompanying the 2012 exhibition, The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision by the New-York Historical Society and Linda S. Ferber.

A selection of 18th-century Ladies' Books.

A selection of 19th-century Ladies’ Books.

Finally, I have included a few quotes about art and nature below—which of these ring most true for you or reflect the Museum mission, and why? SONY DSC

The big artist… keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools. (Thomas Eakins)

Art will never be able to exist without nature. (Pierre Bonnard)

What right do I have to be in the woods, if the woods are not in me. (John Cage)

The Louvre is a good book to consult, but it must only be an intermediary. The real and immense study that must be taken up is the manifold picture of nature. (Paul Cezanne)

What is one to think of those fools who tell one that the artist is always subordinate to nature? Art is a harmony parallel with nature. (Paul Cezanne)