Tibast : om bilden av Daphne mezereum i Palmstruchs Svensk Botanik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The cover of the latest volume of the scientific flora Flora Nordica (2010) is illustrated with a picture of the mezereon plant, Daphne mezereum, taken from J. W. Palmstruch’s old Swedish flora Svensk botanik (1802). In his preface, Palmstruch states that the illustrations are most often depicted from nature, but ”sometimes borrowed, with or without improvements” from four quoted international works: Georg Christian Oeder’s Flora Danica (1761-1883), Joseph Jacob von Plenck’s Icones Plantarum Medicinalium (1788-1812), William Woodville’s Medical Botany (1790-95), and James Sowerby’s & James Edward Smith’s English Botany (1790-1814). This article discusses the copying of illustrations in botanical treatises, focusing on the picture of the mezereon plant in these, and two later works.
Botanical illustrations are built on earlier pictorial and verbal tradition and knowledge, as well as the written text. Older visual representations are sometimes copied, and in certain cases occasionally modified in order to correct or to add more information. Even when the plant is actually depicted from the living specimen, the drawing is affected by the conventions of the specific genre and the specific context.
In 1901 the Swedish botanist Carl Lindman was responsible for the publication of the Swedish flora Bilder ur Nordens flora (1901-1905), that was, in some ways, a reworking of Palmstruch’s Svensk botanik. Palmstruch’s hand-coloured copper plates were to be transferred to chromolithographs by the artist and scientific illustrator Axel Ekblom. The text was to be completely revised by Lindman, whereas the illustrations were considered to be still valid and the original plan was simply to transfer the pictures to the new medium. Eventually Lindman, who was a skilful painter himself, was not satisfied with the old pictures, and so ended up taking a great part in the pictorial process as well. The old drawings were meticulously examined, corrected and often supplied with new, extremely magnified details. But also these new additions were influenced by others, most probably in this very case by O. W. Thomé’s Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz (1885). Still today old pictures are reused in new floras, although not always strictly for scholarly purposes but sometimes for beauty and iconic value.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cultural Studies


  • Palmstruch, Svensk botanik, Lindman, Bilder ur Nordens flora, tibast, kopiering, bildtradering
Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)101-118
JournalSvenska Linnésällskapets årsskrift
VolumeÅrgång 2010
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch