A famous Austrian botanist and physician, Plenck was a professor at Ofen in Hungary, Basel and professor of botany and chemistry at the Joseph Academy, Vienna. He is best known for his publication Icones Plantarum Medicinalium, Vienna, 1788-1812. The book contains 758 hand-coloured engravings and are described by Blunt as 'delightful, and very decorative in treatment' (Blunt, p. 177). Plenck worked in the style of Nikolaus Joseph Jacquin (1727-1817), the distinguished Dutch scientist and prolific author, who moved to Vienna to seek his fortune. During the second half of the 18th century Vienna became an important centre of botanical study under the patronage of the Empress Maria Theresia and Emperor Francis I.
The characteristic shadows behind each specimen lift the illustrations from the page and heighten the realism of the watercolours.