Blunt, Wilfrid and William T. Stearn. The Art of Botanical Illustration. An Illustrated History. Suffolk, England: The Antique Collector’s Club, Ltd, 1994.
Considered the authoritative source on the subject, this very approachable, thorough work about the history of botanical illustration was first published in 1950. Professor Stearn expanded and
revised the work for reissue in 1994. The very earliest origins of botanical art are explored in depth.
Blunt, Wilfrid and Sandra Raphael. The Illustrated Herbal. London: Thames & Hudson, 1994.
Herbals were treatises on medicinal plants written for doctors and apothecaries with illustrations for correctly identifing plants. This unique work focuses on the development of the European medieval herbal and its place in the history of botanical art. Originally published in 1979 and revised in 1994.
Barker, Nicholas. Hortus Eystettensis: The Bishop's Garden and Besler's Magnificent Book. London: British Library, 1994.
Note that this is not a reproduction of the 367 plates from the original Hortus Eystettensis (otherwise known as the Besler Florilegium). Rather, this is the author's
research into the origins of the work and the whereabouts of the few hand-colored editions that were made from the original copperplate engravings. Of the 367 original plates, 50 are reproduced here at half size.
Blunt, Wilfrid and Sandra Raphael. The Naming of Names. The Search for Order in the World of Plants. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2005.
Although this is not a book for the casual reader, it does provide a thorough history of plant taxonomy—how to systematically organize and name plants—beginning with the ancient Greeks through the 18th century. Pavord is the author of The Tulip, a very enjoyable and informative history of tulip mania in the 17th century. In this book, her writing never fails to make a sometimes tedious subject fascinating.
Rowley, Gordon Douglas. A History of Succulent Plants. Mill Valley, CA: Strawberry Press, 1997.
The botany and cultivation of succulent plants is, of course, the focus of this book, but the history of these plants can't be told without a survey of related botanical art, as the discovery of succulents in Africa and the Americas was documented by botanical artists. This is a large book with a wealth of illustrations.
Rix, Martyn. The Golden Age of Botanical Art. London: Andre Deutsch, 2012.
This beautifully bound book with its delightful endpapers deals with much more than the Golden Age of Botanical Art (1750-1850). The author begins with the very beginnings of botanical art, follows explorers to Russia, India, China, South America, and the Pacific, and ends up with chapters on 20th century botanical artists and the state of botanical art today. The exquisite artworks (over 250 images) are from the archives of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
Reveal, James L. America's Botanical Beauty. Illustrations from the Library of Congress. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1992.
The history of botanical art in America has not been as richly documented as that of European botanical art. This is by no means an exhaustive study of the explorers and botanists
who surveyed the continent, but it is an excellent and concise introduction. The chapters on 19th century explorations in the American West are of particular interest, as they tie botanical exploration and art to pivotal historical events in U.S. history.
Knapp, Sandra. Plant Discoveries. A Botanist's Voyage Through Plant Exploration. London: Firefly Books Ltd., 2003. The history of plant exploration is told there through the discoveries of twenty plant families, such as cacti, waterlilies, and arums. This weighty book contains
hundreds of color illustrations from the collection of the Natural History Museum of London.