Choosing a botanical print.
A delicately colored rendering of a favorite plant can be an
impressive holiday gift for a gardener on your list. Whether portrayed
with scientific accuracy or artistic abandon, flowers, fruits, or
blooming bulbs offer handsome images for framing. Here we list 10
dealers with good selections of botanical prints. Prices range from as
little as $10 for a color reproduction to over $100 (and as high as
$5,000) for original antique prints that have been copper-engraved and
hand-colored. As you explore a dealer's holdings, choosing a
favorite plant is only part of the selection process. You may also
develop an affinity for a particular artist or printmaking technique.
Below are processes you're most likely to come across. Aquatint.
Developed in the 18th century, this technique was intended to reproduce
the subtle tones of watercolor drawings and washes. Look for a grainy effect and rich velvety quality in the shadows. Engraving. Used by
artists as early as the 15th century, this technique is often
characterized by crisp lines or irregularly shaped dots. Lithograph. In
this printmaking process, look in the black areas for a texture that
resembles crayon. Colors are often added by hand to the black-and-white
image with vegetable dyes. Photomechanical prints. The most contemporary
of the printmaking techniques, this process features an image that is
painted, then reproduced photographically. Under a magnifying glass,
look for uniform dots that make up the image. Assessing a print's
value Keep in mind that prices of an antique print are determined by the
artist's reputation, the print's age, the quality of the
impression, the condition of the print, the number of impressions pulled
from each plate or stone, and its scarcity in the marketplace.
Restrikes-prints made from the original plate after an artist's
death-are typically a fraction of the cost of prints made during his or
her lifetime. When you shop, buy at reputable galleries and select what
you like. For a valuable print, leave framing to a professional. Where
to shop for botanical prints Visit, write, or call the following dealers
for information. Washington. Carolyn Staley-Fine Prints, 313 First Ave.
S., Seattle 98104; (206) 6211888. Specializes in antique botanical
prints. Hours: I I to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Flora & Fauna
Books and Prints, 121 First Ave. S., Seattle 98104; 623-4727. New, used,
and rare botanical, gardening, and nature books and prints. Hours: 10 to
5 Mondays through Saturdays. California. Lyons Ltd. Antique Prints, 2700
Hyde St., San Francisco 94109; (415) 441-2202. Specializes in antique
prints, including botanical ones. A new 48-page color catalog ($10 plus
tax) covers botanical and other types of prints. Hours: 10 to 5 Mondays
through Saturdays. Esprit de Fleurs Ltd., 225 Crossroads Blvd., Suite
349-S, Carmel 93923; (408) 625-5850. This mail-order dealer (brochure
$1) specializes in contemporary and antique botanical prints. Saville
Fine Prints Gallery, 817 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara 93101; (805)
965-1319. Focuses on 18th- and 19th-century botanical prints. Hours: I I
to 5 Tuesdays through Saturdays. Susan Benjamin Rare Prints & Maps,
Fig Tree Farms, 13721 W. Telegraph Rd., Santa Paula 93060; (805)
933-3193. More than 5,000 antique botanical prints, some dating from
1611. Call for an appointment. Janis Aldridge, Inc., 8452 Melrose Place,
Los Angeles 90069; (213) 658-8456. Specializes in 17th- through
19th-century botanic engravings and in custom European frames. Call for
an appointment. Biota, 8500 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood 90069; (213)
289-0979. Hours: 10 to 5 Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 to 5 Saturdays.
Gideon Gallery, Ltd., 8748 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles 90069; (213)
657-4194. More than 125,000 original hand-colored and black-and-white
prints from the 16th through the early 20th centuries. Hours: 9 to 5
weekdays. J. Dewers, 345 Market St., San Diego 92101; (619) 233-5888.
Selection of contemporary and 19th-century botanical prints. Hours: 10
to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays.