Lesser Periwinkle, Vinca minor
15th or 16th century
Gouache on vellum
Museum no. E.1046-1986
This gouache study painted on vellum was probably a page from a manuscript herbal. We know that the page was once part of a bound volume because three of the four edges of the sheets have been gilded. The textile designer James Mitten (1812-54) once owned this drawing in the early 19th century. He probably used is as source material when designing floral and foliage patterns.
Herbals were concerned with how plants could be used medicinally rather than how they could be identified and the illustrations were secondary to the authoritative text. Here, the lesser periwinkle is shown without its flowers, because its medicinal use came from the leaves.
This drawing can be found in Print Room Box DP1.