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Anthology of flowers: casting a modern light on an old muse

Individual flowers posed against plain backgrounds, every delicate ridge and translucent vein on display – at first glance, Anthology of Flowers could be mistaken for a collection of botanical paintings. It does study plant morphology like the Victorians, but this body of work is actually a series of photographs shot by Richard Maxted.

Front cover, Anthology of Flowers by Jane Field-Lewis and Richard Maxted (Quadrille £15) Photography: Richard Maxted
Front cover, Anthology of Flowers by Jane Field-Lewis and Richard Maxted (Quadrille £15) Photography: Richard Maxted

“Many have photographed flowers in the past of course, but I wanted to try and create an illustration of a flower in a photograph.” says Maxted, “That and I’m a sucker for gorgeous Tulip.”

While working on the book, he discovered these silent and delicate creatures are actually quite stubborn. “Try and convince a Lilly to lean the other way!” he suggests. It took nearly three days to shoot each of the fifty flowers in the book, and about three months to see the project to completion.

Sunflower Agapanthus

While ‘observing minutely their form, texture, colour and sense’ this work does more than clinically study flowers. Instead of categorising them by botanical family, the book takes a more poetic approach grouping flowers into chapters titled Folkloric, Toxic, Exotic and so on. Maxted explains this was done to “give the reader another level of complexity.”

Author Jane Field-Lewis lends words to each visual; a quirky cultural history that traces etymology, draws literary references, alludes to folklore and much more. Did you know, that the name Dandelion comes from the French dent-de-lion, which means “lion’s tooth?”

Tulips, Photography: Richard Maxted
Tulips

Jane Field-Lewis is a stylist, art director, costume designer and author.

Richard Maxted’s work can be viewed at www.maxted.com. For enquiries about prints from this series please email prints@maxted.com

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