18th Century Prints, Botanical, Copperplate, Engraving, Natural History, Prints

Weinmann botanicals

With the new fall season comes new prints for the gallery walls. We opened 20th Century People two weeks ago on one side of the gallery, and are in the process of hanging our “historic” side of the gallery with antique prints and maps which show off the full range of our gallery’s collection. Two new prints to this side of the wall are from Weinmann’s 18th century botanical masterpiece, Phytanthoza iconographia.


Beta alba, Poiree blanc. No. 242. Johann W. Weinmann. Published in Amsterdam and Ratisbon. Copper engraving printed in color and finished by hand, 1736-1745. Average platemark 12 3/4 x 8″ (325 x 203 mm). LINK.


Aloe Americana toberosa yuccae foliis. No. 53. Johann W. Weinmann. Published Amsterdam and Ratisbon. Copper engraving printed in color and finished by hand, 1736-45. Average platemark 12 3/4 x 8″ (325 x 203 mm). LINK.

A truly ambitious project, the Phytanthoza iconographia includes 8 folio volumes and over 1000 plates, resulting in one of the most comprehensive reference on plants, flowers, and fruits of the eighteen century.  The collection is impressive in both size and scope, both almost unparalleled in beauty. Weinmann utilized the talents of Georg Dionysius Ehret, a distinguished botanical artist credited with being the greatest influence on 18th century botanical painters, in addition to the help he received by N. Assam, B. Seuter, J.E. Rindinger and J. Haid.  Ehret is responsible for roughly 500 plates, half of the images in the collection.

Weinmann was one of the first printmakers to produce color printing from a single plate, resulting in a vibrant and cohesive image. The two prints selected, Beta alba, poiree blanc and Aloe Americana toberosa yuccae follis are excellent examples of the rich coloration achieved by this single-plate process. Vibrant greens and blues are coupled with a warm yellow under tone, a combination that makes these botanicals pop off the creamy 18th century paper.

Phytanthoza iconographia was published in both Latin and German editions, and a Dutch edition appeared in four volumes in 1736-1748. It was the Dutch edition that was brought to Japan in the early nineteenth century, and some of Weinmann’s illustrations were the source for those in Honzu zufu, the monumental Japanese botanical work by Iwasaki Tsunemasa. Honzu zufu was one of the two most important treatises on systematic botany in the Tokugawa period (1603-1867).

To see more Weinmann engravings, or additional botanicals from the likes of Thornton, Bessa, Redoute, and many more, stop by our Georgetown gallery in Washington, DC.