Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower


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Artists' Books and the Natural World

Elisabeth Fairman

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $55.00
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Highlighting an enduring interest in natural history from the 16th century to the present, this gorgeous book explores depictions of the natural world, from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books.  It examines the scientific pursuits in the 18th and 19th centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloguing of the natural world.  It also investigates the aesthetically oriented activities of self-taught naturalists in the 19th century, who gathered flowers, ferns, seaweed, feathers, and other naturalia into albums.  Examples of 20th- and 21st-century artists’ books, including those of Eileen Hogan, Mandy Bonnell, and Tracey Bush, broaden the vision of the natural world to incorporate its interaction with consumer culture and with modern technologies.  Featuring dazzling illustrations, the book itself is designed to evoke a fieldwork notebook, and features a collection pocket and ribbon markers.

Published in association with the Yale Center for British Art

Exhibition Schedule:

Yale Center for British Art


Elisabeth Fairman is senior curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Yale Center for British Art.


Yale Center for British Art


“A book in which science and art blissfully hold hands . . . [Its] wonderfully unruly heart . . . bolsters the notion that amateur field guides are living books . . . personal works, in the same way that Emily Dickinson’s poems are personal. . . . ‘Green Leaf’ is all about the joys of looking hard.”—Dana Jennings, New York Times

“Stunning . . . an astonishing array of works . . . showing us the ingenious ways artists observe and depict the natural world. The volume’s carefully orchestrated rhythm of images and words reveals Fairman’s fruitful collaboration with book designer Miko McGinty. Short texts, sprinkled throughout . . . offer lively commentary on the beautifully photographed plates.”—Brooke Hodge, Artforum

‘The sheer beauty of some of the watercolours, prints and paper-cuts is astounding. They make me long to sit for days in the Yale library and leaf through the other pages. And the book is flawlessly produced, right down to the pocket at the back to tuck your own cuttings in, and ribbon markers in Farrow & Ball hues.’—Augusta Pownall, The Spectator

Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower is more like an album: whimsical, eclectic and full of surprises.’—Susan Owens, World of Interiors

‘There’s something charmingly retro about this volume, which is deliberately designed to evoke an old-fashioned fieldwork book, complete with a pocket in the back for your own notes and specimens.’—Caroline Bugler, V&A Magazine

‘In our increasingly digital age, it’s a pleasure to be reminded of the enduring beauty of physical objects – if they are handled correctly, of course. The spectacularly lavish Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower [is a] treasure trove [and] an unmissable record of the human response to the natural world.’—Seth Burgess, BBC Wildlife Magazine

 ‘This book is a delight, with page after page of wonderful representations of nature – from simple, pressed flowers, pencil drawings, wood engravings and watercolours to elaborate paper-cut art and digital prints.’—Juliet Roberts, Gardens Illustrated

‘The stunning illustrations capture our nation’s enduring interest in natural history, from illuminated manuscripts and traditional botanical drawings to artists’ books as installations. Lovers of nature and beautiful books will love the enchanting details: a pocket for pressed flowers and multiple ribbon markers. An exquisite tribute to the British countryside.’—The Lady

‘[A] wonderful book that juxtaposes images made at different points in time to encourage you to think about the choices that an artist makes when depicting nature and that leaves you marvelling at the skill with which mere pigment on paper can be used to mimic the bloom on the skin of a plum, the texture of oak bark and such commonplace miracles of nature as thistledown and dandelion.’—Salon, Society of Antiquaries of London

‘It would be a wonderful addition to the library of any naturalist or artist. A feast for the eyes and a sharpening of acute observation of the natural world.’—Caught by the River blog

‘There are some absolutely beautiful, startling, delicious images.’—The Oldie

'Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower is a lavishly illustrated compilation of essays about the Yale Center for British Art. . . This beautiful tome. . . is a fine overview of a truly magnificent British obsession.’—Louise Fabiani, TLS

‘In a brilliant curatorial move, Fairman intermingled the natural history of artifacts and artwork from the past five centuries with more than a hundred contemporary artists’ books. The recent work is highly conscious of the tradition it draws upon, and it encouraged witty and thought-provoking juxtapositions.’—Karen Reeds, The Botanical Artist.

‘Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower is a fine contribution to the lively, important and ongoing international conversation on history, on art, and on their intersection.’—Cecelia Clarke, Garden History Society.

“An example of exquisite bookmaking”—Sara Evans, Art of the Times

‘Intelligence in the Flesh [is] eloquently written, refreshing and entertaining.’—Elsbeth Stern, Nature.

“Elegantly designed . . . almost an artist’s book in itself . . . [and] an important contribution to the study of how artists see and depict nature through the medium of the book.”—Stephen J. Bury, Print Quarterly

Shortlisted for the 2014 Authors' Club Book Prize
ISBN: 9780300204247
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Yale Center for British Art
248 pages, 8 1/4 x 10 1/4
250 color + b/w illus.
The Poet of Them All

William Shakespeare and Miniature Designer Bindings from the Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert

Elisabeth R.

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Eileen Hogan

Personal Geographies

Elisabeth R.

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