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Jan McDonald on botanical books

Jan McDonald, the rare books librarian at the State Library, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at two of her favourite volumes of botanical illustrations from the early 19th century.

'Although I have privileged access, in fact these are books which were bought for all Australians'

Jan McDonald

One book contains depictions of Australian plants collected by scientific illustrator Austrian Ferdinand Bauer. The other, by the decorative French painter of flowers Pierre-Joseph Redouté, captures the blooms growing in Josephine Bonaparte’s garden at Malmaison, including that ever-popular Australian shrub, the egg-and-bacon plant.

The two illustrators painted with a different purpose, but Jan reveals the connection that links them. Watch the video to learn which of the two books still has the power to make Jan say ‘Wow!’