T. Tchernaya

The Komarov Botanical Library, St. Petersburg

E-mail: ttchernaja@mail.ru

Early Works of the Botanists of British East India Company in the Collection of the Komarov Botanical Library. I. William Roxburgh (1751—1815) and Nathaniel Wallich (1786—1849) Centuries

Abstract: William Roxburgh (1751—1815) and Nathaniel Wallich (1786—1854) occupy an honoured place in the history of botanical studying of India. The pioneering scientific activities of the both botanists and publication of their main works were successfully realized due to the support of the British East India Company. Fundamental Plants of the Cost of Coromandel (Roxburgh) and Plantae asiaticae rariores (Wallich) were published as luxuriously illustrated editions and today are considered to be part of the World Cultural Heritage. Modern study of the rare books mentioned above (as well as of the exceptional Wallich Catalogue) gives a glimpse into the history of the first and most important steps of botanical studies in Hindustan and for the first time presents the initial examples of the Indian botanical illustration with its characteristic national charm from positions of art genre. Appearance of these books in Russia and their acquisition by the main Russian Botanical Library (widely known as the Library of the Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (or the Komarov Botanical Library) has its special interest. They played their role as the sample of brilliant research work for the world botany including Russia, so distant from India, and till now they help to solve many important scientific questions.

Key words: William Roxburgh, Plants of the Cost of Coromandel, Nathaniel Wallich, Wallich Catalogue, Plantae asiaticae rariores, Tentamen Florae Napalensis illustratae, botanical history of India, botanical art


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