HSHSL’s Newest Exhibit Highlights Historic Botanicals

With the start of a new, in-person school year, the HSHSL is proud to announce the installation of Botanical Medicine: Highlights from the HSHSL Pharmacy Historical Collection in the Weise Gallery. The exhibit features a selection of large reprints from William Woodville’s Medical Botany, a four-volume set published between 1790 and 1794 by the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh. Botanical Medicine will remain in the Weise Gallery through November.

The art of botanical illustration is a practice that goes back millennia − to the first century B.C.E., when the Greek physician and botanist Crateuas described and illustrated a series of medicinal plants. From that time until the advent of modern photography, detailed plant illustrations, known as botanicals, were invaluable tools for identifying and classifying plants with medicinal or therapeutic properties. Botanical illustration played an important role in the development of scientific knowledge over the centuries, as physicians and pharmacists copied, shared, and studied these illustrations.

Woodville’s set includes 300 plant illustrations by James Sowerby (1757-1822), an English naturalist, illustrator, and mineralogist. The work’s author, Woodville (1752-1805), was an English physician and botanist. Medical Botany is part of the HSHSL’s Historical Collections, located on the fifth floor. For more information on the Woodville volumes, Pharmacy Collection, or Historical Collections, contact Tara Wink, twink@hshsl.umaryland.edu.

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