"Francis I of Austria was the last monarch to rule over the Holy Roman Empire, and the imperial gardens remains one of Vienna's most beloved treasures. In 1791, he commissioned Matthias Schmutzer to paint portraits of every flower in his garden - a project that took more than three decades to complete. Until now, only six of the extant 1,300 paintings have ever been published. This collection features 120 of the most outstanding of Schmutzer's watercolours. Painted life-size and with extraordinary precision, the flowers range from the exotic to the common. A fascinating text by one of the world's leading experts offers biographical information about Francis I, descriptions of the imperial gardens in the ruler's time, and photographs of how they appear today. A significant contribution to horticultural history, this unique and beautifully presented book will delight botanical historians and lovers of flower art alike."--Publisher description.