These hand-painted engravings of healing herbs and garden vegetables are a delight, and I’m sure at least one creative person seeing this will get ideas, download, and do something lovely with these illustrations, so here you go.
They’re from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal (1737). Below you’ll find a zip file you can download of high-res images from the book. Or view it in the entirety, courtesy of The British Library, Catalogues & Collections.
A Curious Herbal (1737)
Download Zip File
About the Book:
Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal is notable both for its beautiful illustrations of medicinal plants and for the unusual circumstances of its creation.
[It] contains illustrations and descriptions of plants, their medicinal preparations, and the ailments for which they are used.
The first herbal was written by the Greek physician Dioscorides in the first century AD.
Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Aberdeen in about 1700, but moved to London after she married. She undertook this ambitious project to raise money to pay her husband’s debts and release him from debtors’ prison.
Blackwell’s Herbal was an unprecedented artistic, scientific and commercial enterprise for a woman of her time.
She drew, engraved and coloured the illustrations herself, mostly using plant specimens from the Chelsea Physic Garden.
It was highly praised by leading physicians and apothecaries (makers and sellers of medicines), and made enough money to secure her husband’s freedom, although she later had to sell the copyright as well.
This finely-bound copy of A Curious Herbal is from the collection of King George III, held in the British Library.
British Library 34.I.12 -13
3 thoughts on “A Curious Herbal (1737) by Elizabeth Blackwell: Hand-colored engravings”
Curiouser and curiouser…
the Chelsea Physic Garden is a marvelous place 🙂
Blackwell knew her Latin; curious that her common name for a holly (Ilex) is “scarlet oak”
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