Flowers and Trees of Tudor England

The Tudor Pattern Book
A series of Hugh Evelyn © prints published in 1972 from some of the images in MS Ashmole 1504, known today as the Tudor Pattern Book. Held in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, the images were painted on vellum between 1520 and 1530. There are 154 pictures of plants, birds and beasts, 5 coloured alphabets, the beginning of a fifth, 2 heraldic sections and all ending with a botanical index. We have images of 58 of the plants, flowers and trees. A similar Pattern Book at Holkham (by the same hand) was purchased by Paul Mellon in 1961. The images shown here comprise plants ostensibly native to England (some are not), their titles engrossed above in English although the style of the pictures (and the English) suggests the influence of the Low Countries. Henry Black, assistant keeper of Public Records in 1845, considered this was the Book of Patterns of an illuminator of manuscripts. The late W.O. Hassall, himself librarian at the Bodleian (Western Manuscripts) and to the Earl of Leicester at Holkham, agreed, whilst questioning if it might be a private text book for a child. Elias Ashmole (1617-92) had acquired collections from Simon Forman (1552-1611) and William Lilly (1602-1681). He had also acquired (fairly or otherwise) the collections of John Tradescants Senior and Junior (gardeners to Robert Cecil and Charles I respectively). Their ‘curiosities’ from around the world (their employers sent their gardeners off to collect plants) formed the basis to the Ashmolean Museum. Ashmole’s manuscripts (and those of Anthony Wood and William Dugdale) were moved to the Bodleian Library in 1860.

The prints measure 23 cm wide x 33.5 cm high (9 ″ x 13 ¼ ″). Minor variation in size is possible based on the actual guillotine cut made by the printer nearly 50 years ago. Shown here are photographs which have been carefully corrected to remove most distortion. Published in 1972 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited, London.

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