Album, Polish‑English version
“Art and nature will always struggle with each other until they overcome and triumph, drawing the same lines that are conquered and conquer at the same time,” wrote 17th century illustrator and steadfast naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. Can her illustrations of the world of nature be treated as autonomous works of art today? Why does art history forget about Rafael of Flowers?
On over 240 pages of the album colorful illustrations from natural history atlases were created with the skillful hand of old cartoonists and colorists during the period when modern plant and animal systematics was being born. You will find here reproductions on a one-to-one scale and large-format enlargements of microscopic details of fauna and flora, which in the days before the invention of photography fed human hunger for beauty. The graphics come from the collection of the Print Room of the PAU Scientific Library and the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow and the Library of the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The unknown collection is unique both because of the artistic level and the presence of many publications widely recognized as milestones of European natural history, including the most famous and graphically outstanding ornithological and botanical albums. The most interesting species have been added voices presenting botany and zoology issues or information about the cultural context. The story runs across the borders, through the centuries, across library catalogs to please the eye not only of seasoned lovers of old graphics, but also those who are even a little close to mindfulness to the world of nature.
The reproductions presented in the album have been precisely developed and subjected to retouching blemishes and discoloration to reflect the mastery and uniqueness of the original. Thanks to UV inks printing on the highest quality uncoated paper with a perfectly smooth but non-shiny surface, it was possible to reproduce the unique colors. The unique binding combines the rawness of thick, ecological cardboard, embossed title with a multi-colored collage, and the elegant, subdued layout of the interior does not interfere with the reception and contemplation of the originals.