Rudbeck’s ”Book of flowers” available online

28 april 2017

Iris bulbosa ffrom Rudbeck's Book of Flowers

Olof Rudbeck the Elder’s work “The Book of Flowers”, consisting of 11 volumes of over 3500 hand-coloured plant sketches, has been digitized. All images are now available through the Alvin platform for digital collections and digitized cultural heritage.

Olof Rudbeck the Elder (1630-1702) was completing an enormous botanical work, Campus Elysii, when the Uppsala City Fire of 1702 put an end to his work. The first volume was lost in the fire, but the remaining 11, containing approximately 3500 hand-colored plant sketches, survived. These are the volumes today referred to as “The Book of Flowers”.

A first and second part of Campus Elysii were printed before the fire, but almost the entire edition of the first part was destroyed.

Rudbeck's ambition was to depict all of the world's known plants in natural size. In order to achieve this, he used printed botanical works, as well as living and pressed plants - for instance from the Burser herbarium. At the time, this herbarium was kept at Uppsala University Library, but today it's part of the collections at the Uppsala Museum of Evolution. His children Olof Rudbeck The Younger, Johanna Christina Rudbeck and Wendela Rudbeck, as well as his students and other relatives and friends, helped draw the sketches.

All pictures from these 11 volumes have now been digitized and are available through the Alvin platform for digital collections and digitized cultural heritage: Blomboken

Read more about the history of Blomboken and see a selection of the pictures in print in: Martinsson, Karin & Ryman, Svengunnar: Blomboken. Photos from Olof Rudbeck's great botanical work. Stockholm, Prisma, 2008.

The pictures of Rudbeck’s Fogelboken (“Book of birds”) have already been digitized: Fogelboken