We are thrilled to have secured a top selection of prints from Rodrigues' Sertum Palmarum Brasiliensium, a major study of Brazilian palm trees that originally encompassed two volumes and 174 plates.
Rodrigues was a native of Rio de Janeiro, a distinguished researcher, author and scientific illustrator and an important figure in the study of Brazilian botany. Interested in the natural sciences, he collected insects and plants and became an art professor specializing in botany. In 1883, he organized and directed the Botanical Museum in Manaus. He then directed the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro, a position he held until his death in 1909. Before he began this fine work on Palms, Rodrigues made some 800 plates on orchids of which he never published although many of these drawings are on display at the library of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. Rodrigues spent over 30 years of his life traveling through Brazil and collecting specimens before he traveled to Brussels Belgium to publish these two volumes. Some of the worlds best botanical chromolithographers at the time lived in Belgium and upon examining the masterful workmanship in these prints you can see why he traveled so far to get his illustrations properly published.
On the title page are listed many of Rodrigues’ achievements: Professor of Botany at the University of Rio de Janeiro, Knight of the Most Noble and very ancient Order of St. Jacques and the Royal Order of the Crown of Italy, member of the Historical Institute, member of the Brazilian Polytechnic Institute, honored by the Institute of Physical and Natural Sciences of Florence, member of the Royal Academic Sciences of Lisbon, member of the Imperial Royal Botanical Society of Edinburgh, member of the Royal Society of Anthropology and Ethnology of Florence, part of the Society of Naturalists of Freiburg and the Institute of Coimbra, member of the Geographical Societies of Rio de Janeiro and Paris, and the Honorary Vice President of the second Latin-American Scientific Congress, among others.
Needless to say Rodrigues devoted much of his life to the study of botany and the natural sciences and was recognized by many of his time as an authority in the field. This work expresses his true love of the palms, landscapes and people of his native land of Brazil and is one of the greatest works on the Palms of Brazil.
The following is an excerpt from the preface:
"This rich and beautiful land, named by Humboldt as a paradise for Botanists, this immense area covered with high mountains, cut by rivers and green fields, shaded by giant rainforests, sandy shores dotted with unique vegetation, and bathed by the waves of the Ocean, this region, called the Brazil, where the air is sometimes dry, sometimes moistened by aqueous vapors, and various climates perfect for ancient plants of the earth to flourish, this beautiful land is the kingdom of Palms. There is, indeed, the whole scale of this palm family, from the greatest to the smallest dwarf giants."
This collection of chromolithographs is Rodrigues’ greatest effort to demonstrate the beauty and tranquility of the Palms of Brazil. From the smallest to the greatest, from the beautifully symmetric leaves to the towering trunks, this work is a palm lovers dream.