Palm tree prints from an important and groundbreaking study of Brazilian palm trees. They are based on watercolors executed in the field by João Barbosa Rodrigues, a scholar of anthropology as well as botany. Among 174 plates that were issued loose in portfolios, most are botanical studies of details of the leaves, flowers and fruits. The work encompasses 382 species of palms in 42 genera, 166 of which were described as new by Rodrigues. In addition, numerous prints show the full trees in the context of village landscapes and the daily activities of members of Amazonian tribes. In some cases, Rodrigues included images of himself engaging in the activities, recognizable by his moustache and goatee.
João Barbosa Rodrigues was an important figure in the arts and sciences in Brazil: a distinguished researcher, author and scientific illustrator, who made significant contributions to Brazilian literature, ethnography, geography, linguistics and zoology, but especially to the study of Brazilian botany. He is still considered among Brazil's greatest naturalists, "remembered for: the countless species, especially of orchids and palms, he described; the numerous publications he authored; the genera named after him…; the Brazilian botanical journal Rodriguésia, established in honor of him; and the 'Barbosa Rodrigues' Herbarium in Itajai, Santa Catarina, named after him'" (Mori and Ferreira).
Rodrigues received a classical education in Rio di Janeiro. After graduating he became an art professor with a growing interest in the natural sciences, especially botany. Between 1868 and 1897, he traveled around Brazil, pursuing scientific research and collecting botanical specimens, particular orchids. In 1871, he spent almost three-and-a-half years in the Amazon where he lived with his family on assignment from the Brazilian government to study palm trees. In 1883, he organized and directed the Botanical Museum in Manaus, then directed the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro from 1890 until 1909. Rodrigues worked for many years on a major study of Brazilian orchids and published the text, but it was one of the great disappointments of his life that he never was able to obtain funding to publish them with the illustrations he had made. However, the Brazilian congress granted funding to support his major study of Brazilian palms, Sertum Palmarum Brasiliensium (1903). The book was published in Belgium, then a center for fine printing of color plate botanical works.
Mori, Scott A. and Flora Castano Ferreira. "A Distinguished Brazilian Botanist, João Barbosa Rodrigues (1842-1909)." Brittonia. Vol. 39, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1987), pp. 73-85. Published by: Springer on behalf of the New York Botanical Garden Press. Online at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2806978.
Nissen, Claus. Die Botanische Buchillustration: ihre Geschichte und Bibliographie. Stuttgart: 1951-66. 1660.
"Sale 2572, Lot 133." Christie's. 22 June 2012. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/books-manuscripts/barbosa-rodrigues-joao-sertum-palmarum-br-5578274-details.aspx (2 June 2015).
Stafleu, Frans A. and Richard S. Cowan. Taxonomic Literature. Utrecht: 1967. 2nd ed., Utrecht: 1976-1988. 9358.