The year 1799 witnessed the first installment of a work that has gone down in history as one of the most remarkable books of botanical plates ever published. Two centuries have passed since the publication of Robert John Thornton's "The Temple of Flora", but its charm remains unsullied today. Although trained as a medical doctor, Thornton (c. 1768–1837) passionately devoted himself to botany, a study that had only a few decades earlier established itself as a modern science through Carl Linnaeus`s revolutionary new system of botanic classification based on the structure of blossoms. Thornton greatly honored the ingenious Swedish scientist and wished his own prodigious undertaking to serve as an ultimate monument to the great botanist.
Werner Dressendörfer, pharmaceutical historian and lecturer at the university of Erlangen, is currently conducting research into the history of medicinal plants from a socio-cultural viewpoint, with a focus on the symbolism of plants and their role in superstition. He is the author of a number of pharmaceutical publications and scientific papers on the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance.