Welcome to the Garden of Delights Exhibit of Ornamental Plants from Curtis's Botanical Magazine:

The Botanical Magazine was founded by William Curtis (1746–1799) in 1787 and became widely known for its beautiful hand-coloured copper engravings and scientific classification. Curtis was very passionate about plants and insects, and he indulged his interests by spending a great deal of time in his garden where he cultivated thousands of plants. He also worked as the director of the Society of Apothecaries at the Chelsea Physic Garden where he developed a consuming interest in British flora. Keenly interested in plants within the city limits, he resolved to publish a botanical journal with accurate descriptions and pictures of London’s plants. The publication of the first volume of Flora Londinensis in 1775 was Curtis’s first attempt to acquaint readers with ornamental plants, but while it was a splendid production, the costs were prohibitive and only two volumes were published. Curtis realized that he stood a better chance of launching a multi-volume periodical if he promised to feature plants from the gardens of his wealthy patrons. The Botanical Magazine (renamed Curtis’s Botanical Magazine after his death) was born and became an immediate success because his books had broad appeal and readers were delighted to see exotic plants from their own gardens. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine is still published today and holds the distinguished status of being the longest running botanical periodical with colour illustrations. The journal features the work of many talented botanical artists whose collected work is now a vivid historical record of plants introduced in Great Britain over the past 200+ years. This exhibit features a selection of showy exotic plants from the rare early volumes of Curtis’s acclaimed journal, which may also be handled in book form at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library [QK 1 C98 v.1 (1787)–v.20 (1804), v.22 (1805)–v.25 (1807)]. The accompanying textual descriptions to each plate are selections from the first edition volumes.




An online exhibit hosted by The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library.