Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower

This gorgeous book – one of our favourite publications for the summer – explores depictions of the natural world through the book form, from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books. The introductory essays to Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower cover a selection of specific approaches, including ‘From Specimens to Books’, ‘Crafting Nature in the Victorian Book and Album’ and ‘Margaret Tournour, Wood Engraver and Naturalist’.

How glorious are the summer woods, Where the bright broom fork-moss grows, With their gush of love-born melody, and their world of verdant boughs! – Twenty Lessons on British Mosses, William Gardiner

A major feature of the book is a ‘Field Guide to the British Countryside’, short texts and artists’ statements with accompanying illustrations that range across the natural landscape, from wildflowers, to fruit and vegetables, insects of all kinds, to ponds, streams and the seaside. The artworks selected come from many different periods, with traditional cut-paper and botanical illustration juxtaposed with innovative installation-like artists’ books by contemporary practitioners like Chisato Tamabayashi, Ron King, John Dilnot, Tracey Bush, Rebecca Salter, Colin Sackett and many more.

A publication for lovers of the ‘book as object’ – Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower includes charming touches like multiple bookmark ribbons to help navigate the different sections and a clever ‘pressed wild flower pocket’ included in the back flap. This is a book for anyone who wants to escape into the natural world, with an artist as their guide.

Find out more, or place an order for ‘Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower’:

About the author:

Elisabeth Fairman is curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Yale Center for British Art.


This book accompanies an exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art. This exhibition examines the intersections of artistic and scientific interest in the natural world from the sixteenth century to the present. Depictions of Britain’s countryside and its native plant and animal life will be explored through more than three hundred objects drawn primarily from the Center’s collections, ranging from centuries-old manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books.

The title of this book is taken from the poem ‘Twenty Lessons on British Mosses’ by William Gardiner

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