Born in 1749, Dutch botanist and botanic plant illustrator Adolphus Ypey graduated at the University of Franeker as a Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine. Adolphus went on to lecture at the very same university in botany before becoming a lecturer in Medicine at the University of Leyden.
Of all his work, Adolphus is perhaps best known for his beautifully presented botanical prints published in 1818. Provided as a supplement to German botanic artist Johannes Zorn’s “Afbeeldingen Der Artseny-gewassen Met Derzelver Nederduitsche En Latynsche Beschryvingen”, Adolphus’ contribution added a further 100 plates of beautifully detailed botanical drawings. The complete work is considered a culturally important publication that remains in limited distribution to this day.
Unfortunately, Adolphus was only able to see his work published for a short time, as he died only four years later in 1822 at the age of 73. However, his botanical art and work lives on in the form of single prints and plates both on and off-line. His use of colour and shade is exceptional in comparison with his peers, with a level of detail that elevates much of his work beyond that of simple botanic interest to true art.
Compare, for example, his Sedum Acre image to that of the more recent botanical drawing by Martin Cilenšek and you will see an attention to detail, colour and shade that is remarkable even for the age.
Much of Adolphus Ypey’s literary work exists to this day in archive material available online. While several works, including that of Adolphus’ supplement to “Afbeeldingen Der Artseny-gewassen Met Derzelver Nederduitsche En Latynsche Beschryvingen” have been recreated and reproduced over the years, you will most likely find his work accessible through scanned copies of his original work.
Unfortunately for the amateur researcher, this can be an extremely difficult and arduous task to collect reference material or examples of his work without sitting down and transcribing his text or tracking down his original botanical illustrations and scanning them in themselves.
It is therefore left to the professional art collectors to gather and reproduce the work of Adolphus Ypey in a way that treats the botanic artist’s work with the respect it deserves. When considering the work of a botanic plant illustrator is to record and preserve the flora they study, is there no better way to recognise this than to preserve their own work for the generations to follow?