Imagine a time when vegetables could stop you in your tracks, when the very sight of a weird and wonderful foodstuff could cause you to gawp and gasp. You can’t can you – what with your Tesco-infused metropolitanism and your exotic-fruit snack packs.
But there was a time when people weren’t as gastronomically savvy as you and so in those days it was important for certain pioneers to catalogue and document things like vegetables. Grain merchant Philippe Victoire de Vilmorin and his father-in-law Pierre Andrieux, botanist to the King, together formed Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie and produced their first seed catalogue in 1766.
As the business grew they became hugely respected botanical experts and a series of publications followed, culminating in arguably the company’s most famous work Album Vilmorin. Les Plantes potagères (The Vegetable Garden, 1850–1895). For this stunning tome of “agro-botanic iconography” 15 painters were hired to render fruits and vegetables and these illustrations have been collated and republished by pharmaceutical historian Werner Dressendörfer.
It’s clearly a significant record of botanical history but it’s also just ruddy beautiful, with skill and flair poured into this fairly prosaic topic.Album Vilmorin. Les Plantes potagères is out now from Taschen.
- Design's many, many layers, and the power of music, at Nicer Tuesdays July
- It’s just life: The democratic eye of William Eggleston
- Tim Lahan is the new Mystic Meg with horoscope illustrations for Elle Magazine
- Musical instruments with a modernist aesthetic by Hundo
- Former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher exhibits his photography work in Nobody's Home
- Monument Valley creator ustwo gives us a peek at its bookshelf
- Benedict Redgrove’s beautifully hypnotic film about how a tennis ball is created
- Tommy Cash subverts the tropes of rap videos with a fleshy celebration of the human body (NSFW)
- Ian Davis’ picturesque paintings of bureaucratic dystopia
- Is it ever OK to work for free?
- Pentagram unveils refresh of Mastercard’s brand mark and identity
- Peter Saville and Tate Design Studio create beer can artwork for Switch House pale ale