St. Louis, MO
Intoxicated by scientific discovery, the fervor for natural science, particularly botany, reached new heights in 18th-century Europe. Botanical gardens and nurseries flourished, as did expertly illustrated albums describing flora and fauna of the Old and New World in tantalizing detail. Naturalism triumphed across the decorative arts, but especially in textiles and porcelain, where the media's vibrant colors and painterly effects allowed for particularly artful and accurate botanical imagery.
The exhibition will feature a number of artworks never before exhibited at the Museum. Outstanding recent acquisitions include a rare silk damask by the English textile designer Anna Maria Garthwaite and an exceptional porcelain tureen and stand from a little-known Meissen dinner service. Two mid-18th-century dresses made of exquisite floral silk will be presented alongside recent gifts of Chelsea porcelain delicately painted with sprays of lilies, roses, and violets.
Cross-Pollination also examines potential sources for floral imagery by presenting rare illustrated books and plant specimens on loan from the Missouri Botanical Garden. The result is an interdisciplinary look at the dialogue between fashionable goods, nature, and natural science in the 18th century.