Florilegium Book Launch and Exhibition

19 December 2017

In association with the College of Science, the ANU Library is proud to present an exhibition of selected Banks’ Florilegium engravings and collection highlights related to the plant specimens collected on Captain James Cook’s first voyage around the works in HMS Endeavour. The exhibition coincided with the launch of Joseph Banks' Florilegium Botanical Treasures from Cook's First Voyage by Professor David Mabberley. Professor Mabberley also presented a lecture to mark the book launch.

The Florilegium is based on the botanical specimens collected and classified by Joseph Banks and Swedish botanist Daniel Solander. Sydney Parkinson was the expedition’s artist, and undertook the botanical illustrations. Using these drawings and notes made on the Endeavour, Sydney Parkinson later produced several of the illustrations as watercolours. Banks later oversaw five artists who used Parkinson’s illustrations and notes to create the remaining watercolours.

Banks later employed engravers to create copperplate engravings from the watercolours. Banks intention to publish the Florilegium did not come to pass in his lifetime.

The Florilegium was eventually published over 10 years between 1980 and 1990 by Alecto Historical Editions. Only 100 sets of plates were produced in 34 parts. Mr RWB Reid donated one set of plates to be shared between the Australian National University and Uppsala University, seeing it as a way to celebrate the voyage’s historic connection between the two countries. The ANU Library holds the plates illustrating the Australian botanical samples.

Over 150 people attended a lecture presented by Professor Mabberley, followed by the book launch and reception in the Hancock Library. Both Professor Mabberely’s book and selected highlights from the Florilegium collection are on display in the Hancock Library. The exhibition will run until January 31st.