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Flora’s Lexicon

Submitted by on May 22, 2011 – 12:46 amNo Comment
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“Flora’s Lexicon”, on display now through June 30, 2011, explores the 19th-century European and American phenomenon of The Language of Flowers, the common understanding that plants and blooms were charged with sentiment and meaning, and held the potential to express emotion or to communicate privileged messages within the strict confines of social etiquette.

The exhibit is in the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation on the 5th Floor of the Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University, 4909 Frew Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Flower associations made their way into Victorian language from various sources, including Japanese, Middle Eastern, Turkish, Greek and Roman cultures, religions and mythology, as well as the literature of Shakespeare and the still-life painting of 17th-century Dutch artists. The result was a fashionable system of floral connotations that blossomed during a time of burgeoning public interest in botany and its scientific importance.

“Flora’s Lexicon” presents books from the Hunt Institute’s Library, and botanical portraits from the Art Department, in an examination of the scope of The Language of Flowers phenomenon, from the influences on its beginning to its continued presence in 21st-century publishing. Differing approaches to the floral dictionary are displayed, while intricate systems of meaning are explored through artworks of many key 18th- and 19th-century botanical artists and illustrators.

In conjunction with “Flora’s Lexicon”, the Hunt Institute will hold its annual Open House June 26 and 27, 2011, including talks, tours and opportunities to meet one-on-one with staff to ask questions and see items in the collections.

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