Vintage nature and botanical illustrations are becoming more and more popular lately. In this article we elaborate on how and where to find botanical posters and various old animal and emphora prints in good resolution, and everything for free.
There are a lot of online places where you can find these kind of illustrations, but very often quality and selection is not very good. Some online shops offer such posters or digital files, but the truth is that most of it is available for free, only if you know how to find the source. We’ll show you our favourite places where you can download original illustrations free of charge. And then, with a little adjustements in Photoshop, you can make beautiful posters out of them.
Biodivesrity Heritage Library
One of first places to check is Biodivesrity Heritage Library, a huge online library with thousands of scanned books and images. Here you can find nature, animal, and botanical illustration collected from journals and libraries around the world. All in all, more than 55 million pages of literature, some of which dates back to the 15th century, and 100,000’s of hi-res illustrations available for free download.
Biodivesrity Heritage Flickr
A large part of their image database has been uploaded to their Flickr account. Here you can find almost 300.000 images, divided into albums which you can browse, and eventually download whatever you like. All images are in the Public Domain, so you can use them for both private and commercial purposes.
If that’s not enough, there’s another photostream of tagged photos. It provides literally millions of vintage wildlife and botanical illustrations and photographs from journals and libraries around the world.
New York Public Library
New York Public Library has vast collection of old publications, posters, photographs, illustrations, and various maps. You can browse by items, collections, and divisions. Most of it is available for free download in medium resolution.
United States National Agricultural Library
United States National Agricultural Library gives us insight into the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection of fruit and nut varieties. It is hosted by United States Department Of Agriculture, and it was developed by growers or introduced by USDA plant explorers around the turn of the 20th century. Time period is 1886 to 1942, with the majority created between 1894 and 1916. There are 7,584 watercolor paintings, lithographs and line drawings, including 3,807 images of apples in the collection. The illustrated plant specimens originated in 29 countries and 51 states and territories in the U.S. The paintings were created by approximately twenty-one artists commissioned by USDA for this purpose. Some works are not signed.
Munich Digital Library
Then there is a Munich Digital Library with over 2,5 million digital books: history, maps, illustration, bible, music, and so on. There are also digitalized newspapers, in total really a lot information offered.
Universitäts und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt
Another German web site with a lot of scanned vintage books is Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt (ULB). A lot of scanned books, documents, and maps. Among others one of my favourite old books: Citrus Sorts, by J.C.Volkamer.
Los Angeles Getty
Something a little bit different, but nonetheless very usefull, is Los Angeles Getty. Here you will find a little bit of everything: art, books, articles, information, inspiration.
So, now that we showed you where to find free botanical posters and illustration, you only need to take some time, choose your motiv, and make some awesome art.
If you liked this article, please comment, like, share, and don’t forget to show us your new art piece by sending link to it in the comment section.
In our next articles we’ll be covering some tips and tricks on creating this kind of art, and practical tips on printing it. See you then!