Magic mushrooms: fall-toned fungi star in this Victorian-era illustration. September 25 2018


Boletus Luridus, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240)


Well hey there mushroom hunter—we found you a treasure trove. This Victorian-era scientific illustration overfloweth with fleshy fungal fecundity (and has a subtly feminist backstory to boot). And can we just say it feels like something Julia Child would have hanging in her kitchen while she swirls some butter in a sauté pan? Boletus luridus is, in a word, enchanting.

There’s something magical about mushrooms (hallucinogenic or otherwise). We’re talking about the unmistakable woodland fairyland vibe of a convivial cluster of assorted mushrooms, like the foursome pictured in our new Vintage Edition. We don’t recommend foraging for your own, lest you poison yourself on accident. Instead, let us furnish the shroomy action à la art! This edition brings together some of our favorite autumnal tones: mustard yellow, faded green, the colors of persimmon, hay, red delicious, damp soil and woodfire. Four examples of Boletus luridus—now called Suillellus luridus—arranged in one flush fungal tableau.

We picked this sumptuously earthy image from Illustrations of British Mycology, published in 1855. Aside from the stunning artwork filling the two-volume resource, another thing sets it apart from other scientific publications of the time: it was fully written and illustrated by a woman. Anna Maria Hussey, née Reed, had a keen interest in art and botany from a young age, at a time when it was highly unusual for women to engage in scientific study. Of the Victorian women who did pursue science, painting flora was often the predetermined path—far more “feminine” and “becoming” a subject than something like fungi.

Hussey would have none of that, focussing on fungi and lichen despite social propriety. Whereas her fellow female illustrators were sent specimens to paint, Hussey ventured out on her own to forage, traveling across wild terrain, blazing a trail in the world of scientific illustration at the same time. Her first and second volumes of Illustrations of British Mycology housed nearly 150 detailed, hand-colored lithographic plates between them, each made by herself and her sister, padded with personal observations, descriptions and anecdotes. Both volumes—especially the illustrations—were widely praised for their accuracy and elegance.

That Boletus luridus is a superior snapshot of vintage science, and that it’s got a low-key undercurrent of Victorian-era female empowerment is enough to make us want more of these mushies. Add the seasonally apropos color story and cozy, kitchen-compelling appeal of this print, and we have a recipe for an extraordinary addition to your art collection.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200