The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

Heavenly Blooms
Orchid Prints from Villa Oyamazaki
Through April 2, 2014 at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The mystery and beauty of orchids is vividly illustrated in this series of 26 hand-colored vintage prints based on paintings of orchids by artist Ikeda Zuigetsu (1877–1944) for the Japanese entrepreneur Kaga Sho-taro (1888–1954). Kaga kept a collection of nearly 10,000 orchids at Villa Oyamazaki, his estate in Kyoto.

Desiring a visual record of his collection, Kaga enlisted Zuigetsu to create paintings of the orchids that could be viewed as scientific records and as works of art. Zuigetsu died in 1944 before completing the project, and it was only after his death that Kaga was able to publish the prints based on Ikeda’s paintings.

The prints in our exhibit were donated to Matthaei Botanical Gardens by Frances Seevers, wife of Dr. Maurice Seevers, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan from 1942–1973. The Seevers were the source of another botanical treasure at Matthaei-Nichols: the original bonsai collection at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, which was donated from the estate of Dr. Seevers in 1977.

A selection of prints from the exhibit (click to enlarge):

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