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Arthur Harry Church: The Anatomy of Flowers

Arthur Harry Church: The Anatomy of Flowers
David Mabberley
London: Merrill & the Natural History Museum
Publication Date: 

cloth, 128 p., $45.00

This book celebrates the exquisite botanical illustrations of Arthur Harry Church (1865-1937), a lecturer at Oxford University. His drawings use a microtechnique to lend a startling clarity and precise edge to the many cross-sections and diagrams of flowers he produced to accompany his elegant studies. Arthur Henry Church considered flowers to be machines for ensuring successful sexual reproduction in plants, and as such, in his illustrations, he bisected flowers to show the reproductive parts, bringing almost an abstract quality to them. The rich colors and meticulous design popularized many of his illustrations.

In this book, the author has provided biographical details about Mr. Church, a virtual recluse, and gathered all of his drawings, many previously unpublished. Mr. Mabberley has added botanical descriptions of pollination techniques necessary for each plant's survival, along with its distribution and name derivation, making the volume of interest not only to illustrators and botanists but also to gardeners.

One of the delights in reading this book is the sense of surprise when turning the pages to reveal sophisticated and complex renderings of such common plants as nasturtium, sweet pea, columbine, royal blue waterlily and sweet William.

— Adele Kleine, Volunteer, Library, Chicago Botanic Garden, Master Gardener and writer for Chicagoland Gardening magazine.