Nature Prints



MediumNature Print


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Foliage, Multiples, Plants, Supports, Watercolor


Image Dimensions: 30.5 x 38.3 cm

Associated Blog Posts:

Nature's Camera


Nature Printing

A rare surviving example of multiple nature prints have been made by means of impressing onto this leaf of laid English paper (ca. 1775-1825) watermarked with a Britannia shield (right of separation) and C & S topped by a coronet. (left of separation)

Made most likely by an English artist, craftsman or even hobbyist, the subject matter of unknown grass and leaf cluster specimens with selective hand-coloring was done with the paper successively folded multiple times. For example, in the bottom right hand corner can be seen the recto and verso of a stem of grass and small cluster of five leaves first done by itself. With the separated paper at the middle acting as a border, (it may have been torn deliberately when making the impressions or it became separated over time) an additional impression using 17 individual leaf specimens laid face down on the right hand side of the paper had the left hand side of the sheet folded over to make the overall impression.


How this was done is neatly summarized by the English Aesthetic Movement designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) who addressed an 1857 meeting of the Royal Society of the Arts on the art of Nature Printing with the following historical account of its origins:


The earliest mode with which we are acquainted of producing impressions of plants was this:—The plant, after being dried, was held over the smoke of a candle or oil lamp, when it became blackened by a deposit of soot, after which it was placed between two sheets of paper and rubbed with a smoothing-bone, which caused the soot to leave the prominences of the leaf and adhere to the paper. In this way an impression of the plant was produced. This method of procuring impressions was employed as early as the year A.D. 1650.

Nature Prints