In 1963, as an undergraduate at Florence University of the Arts, Cesare Leonardi (1935-) opened a design practice with Franca Stagi (1937-2008), a postgraduate at Milan Polytechnic. Together they designed the celebrated Nastro, Eco, and Dondolo chairs before turning to urban and landscape design, renovation, and redevelopment in Modena and its surroundings.
"Chiming with this burgeoning consciousness is the reissue of
Italian architect Cesare Leonardi's beautiful cult book The
Architecture of Trees. Leonardi emerged from the 1960s
architectural avant-garde in Italy; in the 1970s he turned his
attention to landscape and, ultimately, trees. Together with Franca
Stagi, he produced the book with the most astonishing pen-and-ink
illustrations of trees, conceiving of them almost as architecture -
picturing them in elevation like building facades. It became a
bible for landscape architects and designers and its reissue
indicates a shift in attitude, seeing trees as something than
- Financial Times
This book could be considered the Bible for tree lovers. Its large format is perfect for pouring over more than 200 species, hand-drawn to scale. We think The Architecture of Trees is a must-have for those who are interested in landscape design, botany, or just love shady places in the summertime.
- Western Art Architecture
Beautifully and thoughtfully made compendium of information.
- Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries
Each drawing is carefully crafted and the passion for each tree reaches out from the pages to engage the reader. In an era where computers have become the fallback for graphic representation, these ink drawings transport the reader into the artist's and scientist's love for each tree. From the shade diagrams for all seasons to the origin and etymology of names of genera, this book provides both visual beauty and practical information. The Architecture of Trees is a true treasure for both the arboriculture novice and the meticulous scientist.
- Economic Botany
Filled with quill-pen illustrations of 212 species, the exquisite collection took its authors more than two decades to finish. Coffee table, make room!
- O, The Oprah Magazine
If any question the place botanical drawing has in art history (they might want to read up on Ernst Haeckel for a start), they would do well to spend some time perusing through the pine trees in this book with their seemingly infinite leaves, or the hauntingly beautiful sketches of a leaf-less weeping willow. Either way, we lost track of time flipping through this tome, dreaming of our favorite sylvan settings, set in black and white.
- Daily Beast
In an age of digitized everything I was awed by the soft texture of Leonardi's ink drawings..A tree's architecture, its silhouette, tells us what it is, what we can expect from it, and how we can manipulate its shape to serve a purpose: for fruit, for summer shade, for winter silhouettes that stop us midstep, as a hiding place from grown-ups. Now that I have this book, I need a new living room table worthy of the book's contents.
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
It's a work of extraordinary beauty and erudition. It's a magisterial collection, isolating each specimen in a way a photograph could not, and they are presented as living architecture.
Since 1983, designers Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi's botanical masterwork has been a keystone in the library of any landscape architect. But anyone can appreciate the massive compendium of more than 550 intricate, hand-drawn illustrations of trees. Each member of this black-and-white forest appears at 1:100 scale, with and without their leaves. Best of all, this book comes with an equally large bookmark.
- Popular Science
The abiding treasures of this book are elegant quill-pen renderings of each tree in profile, intricate networks of black and white that are dizzying in complexity.
- Natural History
The revival of a beloved design reference.
- Landscape Architecture
The text would be a valuable resource for any landscape architect, as would the plates showing the foliage color of dozens of species of trees, and the computer-generated diagrams of how their shadows fall at different times of year. But the heart of the book is the pen-and-ink drawings of trees found in Europe, each with and without its foliage and each shown in the same 1:100 scale. Their somewhat forbidding beauty is relieved in the back of the book, where lovely detail sketches of cones, berries and leaves punctuate technical descriptions of each tree.
- The Wall Street Journal
The Architecture of Trees is both a reference guide and a work of art.
- Artists Magazine
The Italian designers Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi spent their spare time obsessively sketching trees in all seasons for editions of The Architecture of Trees. The book is newly available in English, and expanded into a sumptuous format weighing six and a half pounds. It combines quill-pen outlines of leafed and leafless specimens - as varied within strict parameters as Bernd and Hilla Becher's factory photos - with bare-boned but poetic texts. Captions and a glossary shed light on how to identify epicarps (fruit skins) and flabellate (fan-shaped) foliage. An essay by Ms. Stagi meditates on how nature experiments in infinite ways within the confines of trees that grab on to the planet and thrive only where it suits them.
- The New York Times
This giant and beautifully-produced book illustrating the structure of 212 tree species will appeal to fanciers of detailed, representational drawing as well as to horticulturalists and landscape designers, for whom it was written. The drawings celebrate the beauty and abundance of natural forms.
This oversized book (15 by 10 inches) would make a bold statement on any coffee table, but the drawings, systematic arrangement of species, detailed species listings, translation of Latin names, and the aforementioned color phenology and shadow sequences make this much more than an art book. The drawings are rendered so precisely that leaf shapes, crown architecture, and stem structure are captured. To call them works of art is appropriate, but they are more accurately said to be works of some hybrid of art and science. Summing Up: Highly recommended.
Using nearly two decades' worth of research, Italian architects Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi present a strong case for a built environment that celebrates the autonomy of trees-those silent forms of life that are all too often treated as passive backdrop.
- Metropolis Online