Floral Prints and Objects

9 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object

All Rights Reserved ()

Equisetum Sylvaticum

Accession Number

Equisetum Sylvaticum

Anna Atkins

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
cyanotype on paper

18 7/8 in x 14 3/4 in (48 cm x 37.4 cm);18 1/16 in x 22 1/16 in (45.88 cm x 56.04 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase

Subject matter
This photograph displays the silhouettes of six plant stems arrayed in a neat diagonal row against a blue background. Starting in the lower left corner, the sprigs fan out diagonally across the image to the upper right of the page. This camera-less photograph was made by laying the stems on chemically treated paper and then exposing it to sunlight. Because the plants blocked the light, their imprint is left after the print’s development. By virtue of this process, the delicacy of the plants’ forms is rendered in exquisite detail, their features represented as silhouettes. The blue of the print appears at once flat and full of depth, suggesting the forms within as almost floating in a blue expanse. Written in elegant script, the latin name for the plant is located in the lower right corner, indicating that each sprig represents a different stage of the plant’s growth.  This print then has a scientific function as well, offering a means of recording and classifying botanical specimens. 

Physical Description
This cyanotype photograph displays the silhouettes of six plant stems laid out in a row.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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Plantae (kingdom)
Sphenophyta (division)
contact prints
cyanotypes (photographic prints)
natural history specimens

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted