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The Art of Instruction, Plant and Animal Anatomy Prints

Wall charts were first introduced in primary schools and would quickly find their way into high schools and universities. These wall charts became important teaching aids as populations increased and the numbers of students increased with it making circulating picture books, loose engravings and biological specimens impractical. According to Katrien Van der Schueren, author of The Art of Instruction, these educational wall charts originated in Germany around 1820. During the decade between 1990 and 1890 German printers alone published more than twenty thousand distinct charts that were sold and distributed around the world.
Sundew Illustration, The Art of Instruction

When charts on specific subjects weren't in production teachers, university professors and scientist would create their own hand-drawn charts or work with artists who specialized in scientific illustrations.

Bean life cycle illustration, The Art of Instruction

These wall-sized charts have become relics of artistic, scientific and educational progress due to their ephemeral qualities. The charts were not cataloged by the companies that created them or by the institutions that employed them in education. The attention to detail in the prints of these plants, seeds and flowers is outstanding.

Fruit and seed pod illustration, The Art of Instruction

As a gardener I'm particularly interested in the wall charts that illustrate the parts of plants, bulbs, flowers and seeds. They're beautiful and sometimes unsettling at this size. I can only imagine the kind of thoughts these wall-size prints elicited in small children of the time.

The plates in the book are beautiful and would make a great holiday gift, or turned to the right pages-a great Halloween decoration for your coffee table.

Given their origins in education, the prints in the book are ideal study tools for gardeners who are interested in seed saving and plant propagation because you get to these parts of plants and flowers up close and in great detail. The Art of Instruction is a unique coffee table book that features vintage educational charts of plants and animal anatomy from the 19th and early 20th centuries. These charts that were originally used in classrooms across Europe and today are coveted wall art. The Art of Instruction is compilation of Katrien’s her personal collection of educational wall charts.

I received a free PDF copy of  The Art of Instruction for the purposes of this review. The book is published by Chronicle Book and you can purchase a hardcopy from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. I love looking at those prints too but I wish even more I could illustrate some myself. I've always wanted to be an illustrator at heart—among a gazillion other things.

  2. These are just amazing, Mr. Green Thumb! I could look at them all day!!! I adore botanical illustrations!!!

  3. Ahhh… Garden & Nature Illustrations! Love them - especially ones of Ernst Haeckl (talk about drawing skill - so inspiring!!!). Can't wait to check out this book! Thanks for the intro...

  4. I love botanicals and have several and also birds. These would look just great framed.


  5. I've always loved illustrations like these! I pretty much want every single one I've ever stumbled across.

  6. @Ann, While I never wanted to be an illustrator I wish I could do botanical illustrations.

    @Julie, Aren't they great? I love botanical illustrations too.

    @Marsha, No, thank you for the intro to Ernst Haeckel. I just saw his Nepenthaceae illustration and was blown away.

    @Gatsbys Gardens, I agree. I definitely wouldn't mind having a number of these hanging in my home. The book's author owns an art gallery that specializing in these educational wall charts and I'd love to go see some in person.

    @Tom, LOL. I know the feeling. Looking at botanical illustrations can become an addiction.

  7. I love these illustrations. I work with a bunch of really talented artists at Botanical Interests and am constantly in a state of humbled awe when I see the realism of botanical illustrators of all kinds.
    I think the animal illustrations look almost like something Dali could have done.
    All of this makes we want to revisit my favorite collection of botanical art in the Hortus Eystettensis. If you've never seen it, it comes highly recommended.



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