The Temple of Flora

Dates: Open daily from 9 March - 30 June 2024

Times: 10am - 4pm

Where:Santos Museum of Economic Botany, Adelaide Botanic Garden

Free Entry

Mid-18th century Europe…

Botanical knowledge is power. Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus has simplified plant classification and inspired a craze for botanising amongst both the public and great European empires. Plant hunters scour the globe for exotic plants to bolster their country’s coffers, and lushly illustrated botanical books or ‘florilegium’ are coveted by the rich.

Enter Dr Robert Thornton, passionate amateur botanist and fierce patriot. Funded by a hefty family fortune, Thornton aims to produce a botanical publication so outrageously lavish that it will leave Britain’s European rivals in the shade.

The Temple of Flora, part three of his ambitious New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus features a suite of plant portraits commissioned from some of the finest artists and engravers of the day. Each plant is set against brooding, romanticised version of its habitat and accompanied by lashings of botanical poetry. The project leaves Thornton destitute.

Our new exhibition features prints from the Temple of Flora – now considered one of the most prized botanical books in the world – alongside rare botanical publications from the Garden’s own library.

Image gallery

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