Last night was the formal opening of the Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art exhibition of Irish Botanical Art in the Print Gallery, at the National Gallery of Ireland. This exhibition:
Many of the drawings, watercolours, prints, and books will be on display for the first time at the National Gallery of Ireland during the exhibition. Works from public and private collections include selections from the National Botanic Gardens (Glasnevin), National Museums Northern Ireland, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) and the V&A (London).
Below you can find out about the exhibition and see photos of some of the artists who have work in the exhibition.
The exhibition combines the botanical artwork of celebrated Irish botanical artists of the past - many of whom were women - such as
Items have been lent by private collectors and public collections including the V&A, Kew, and National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.
“While many Irish botanical artists ventured across the world, others barely stepped beyond their townlands. This exhibition highlights how they are bonded by a common curiosity in nature and a compulsion to record it. It celebrates centuries of looking closely, drawing carefully, and treasuring the complex beauty of plants.”
The artists in the above photograph are leading Irish contemporary botanical artists. Most are active in organising exhibitions of botanical art by the Irish Society of Botanical Artists and/or at Bloom.
They are (left to right)
The group of contemporary artists participating in the exhibition also found out last night that they are all invited to exhibit in a group show at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin in July-August 2020!
Thanks to various of the botanical artists participating in the show and the Olivier Cornet Gallery for details and photos.
Today I'm sharing the 20 most popular pages on Botanical Art and Artists (excluding specific artists) over 2018-19.
One of the ways I try to improve Botanical Art and Artists is by paying attention to what interests visitors to the site. That's why I regularly look at the website statistics. Periodically I pull a pdf file of Google Analytics and take a look at which pages which get the most traffic and which pages which get the lowest and the highest bounce rates.
I've decided to limit the timeframe for the count to 2018 and 2019 as I've introduced quite a few new pages since it started, over 4.5 years ago, in April 2015. However sorting out the ranked order based on my Google Analytics data was not at all easy and I ended up using an Excel spreadsheet and sorting on two data sets!
1. Past Masters of Botanical Art & Illustration (1500-1900)
This one is way out in front and has been ever since I created the site. It gets more hits than the home page! This particular page is really interesting as it highlights and summarises some of the famous botanical artists and illustrators and Past Masters - between 1500 and 1900 - from the UK, France, Netherlands / Flemish, Germany & Austria, Italy, Australasia, Africa - specifically South Africa, North and Central America and South America. Plus and other notable artists working within botanical art and illustration. (Note Famous Asian Botanical Artists (600 - 1500) from China, India and Japan are on a separate page - and I probably need to create a seperate page for Europe too)
2. NEWS about Botanical Art and for Botanical Artists
My News Blog started after the main site was created but has become very popular ever since. The number of subscribers also continues to climb
3. Tips and Techniques
Extremely popular right from the beginning. A good tip for any botanical artist wanting to create traffic to their website is to provides tips and techniques - for free - on your website or blog or social media site. People love them. Next best tip is alert me to your tip and if it's good enough then I'll add it into this resource page and you'll get even more traffic!
4. Best Botanical Art Instruction Books
A very popular page because I only list the books I rate and I also provide lots of reviews - and some of them are in-depth. This is a VERY long page with LOTS links to sub-pages which review books by specific people
5. What is Botanical Art?
The perennial question - hence the ranking. I try to provide an answer by quoting others on this topic. I add to it when I find a great new comment or insight.
6. Scientific Botanical Illustration
How to draw plants to scientific standards. This page includes basic instruction on what to do and what not to do when illustrating plants to scientific standards; drawing aids which promote accuracy in measurement and rendering in scientific illustration links to practical tips and techniques for botanical illustration from leading scientific botanical illustrators and organisations providing support for scientific illustration. Plus articles about the history of scientific botanical illustration and the development of contemporary Flora.
7. Botanical Artists and Illustrators UK
This page highlights artists and illustrators creating contemporary botanical art and illustration of distinction who are based on or born in the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This page which has way more artists than any other continent or country in terms of people who qualify for the listing.
8. Plant Names and Botanical Latin
When recording a plant name wrong can affect the colour of medal you receive at an RHS Botanical Art Show it's worth making an effort to understand how plant names are constructed and how to write them. (There's a few artists who wish growers made the same effort!). Plus it's a topic which does not get a lot of coverage online!
9. How to draw and paint leaves and trees
I've been saying for a long time, botanical art is not just about painting flowers! The second thing I've remarked on more than a few times is there is a major market for the author who writes the definitive book on how to paint plants and trees. I get asked by publishers for names of artists I'd recommend for specific topics. If you're interested contact me.
This page is the "top tips" page dedicated to tips and techniques for how to draw and paint botanically correct trees and leaves. Drawing and watercolour painting instruction includes step by step demonstrations, videos and books. I'm currently working my way through an analysis of every instruction book in terms of how good it is in providing instruction for leaves and/or trees.
10. Contemporary Botanical Artists and Illustrators
This is the gateway to all the pages about the contemporary botanical artists and illustrators listed on this website who draw, paint and print plants and flowers AND have been recognised for their excellence and mastery of their individual approach to botanical art and illustration [Note Continent / country listings are not definitive. They're being updated all the time]
The 10 most popular botanical artists and botanical illustrators from the past - with dedicated pages on my website - are ranked and listed below.
To date the 18th and 20th centuries are doing very well. The spread across the centuries is as follows:
It's very interesting that the top three female botanical artists are all people that I would think of as being part of the great "exploration" heritage of botanical art. They used their own initiative to decide where to go, what to paint and how to present it in terms of contemporary ways of exhibiting and publicising their work.
Some food for thought maybe as people compile their "to do" lists for next year?
Links to the dedicated web pages for each artist are embedded in the names of the botanical artists listed below. The ranked order is based on the Google Analytics data for my website for the last four years.
1. Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717)
Her popularity is, in part, influenced by all the events and celebrations of her life generated by the 300th anniversary of her death in 2017. There was a lot of interest in her life during that period - and since.
2. Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 - 1840)
Probably one of the most popular botanical artists with the general public. Due in no small part to the considerable reproduction of his paintings for wall decorations. However his achievements in terms of "series" paintings were considerable and varied - particularly Les Liliacees (1802 - 15) and Les Roses (1817 - 21). He also has the unique distinction of painting on commission for both Queen Marie Antoinette and the Empress Josephine Bonaparte!
3. Margaret Mee (1909 - 1998)
A lot of her paintings of plants in the Amazon Rainforest were exhibited in the "Brazil - a Powerhouse of Plants" exhibition at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens in 2016. Her focus on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest has also seen her much referenced in recent times
4. Marianne North (1830 - 1890)
There are not many artists who can say they've travelled to and painted plants in
5. Rory McEwen (1932 - 1982)
Probably the best known and most popular of more recent contemporary artists. As 'The Colours of Reality' Retrospective Exhibition in 2013 at Kew demonstrated, this is an artist who has been a considerable influence on many of the most talented leading botanical artists of today
6. Elizabeth Blackwell (1707 - 1758)
A lady botanical artist with a fascinating backstory who painted plants growing in the Chelsea Physic Garden. Blackwell compiled and published her hand drawn, engraved and coloured "A Curious Herbal" (1737-1739) in order to raise funds to free her husband from debtors prison.
7. Sydney Parkinson (1745 - 1771)
The botanical artist who sailed on the Endeavour, with Captain Cook, to South America, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia - and died on the way back. He's well known in connection to the development of his drawings and paintings for Banks Florilegium.
8. Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-1770)
The leading botanical artist in Europe in 1750! This German born artist was a prodigious artist who produced an enormous number of high quality illustrations on commission for various botanical publications and plant collectors. He was one of the most influential botanical artists of all time due to his development of the Linnaean style of botanical illustration. He is also one of my favourites!
9. Arthur Harry Church (1865-1937)
A botanist who focused on the morphology and structure of plants and began to illustrate to demonstrate his findings. He has since earned a reputation as a scientific botanical illustrator of note.
10. Pandora Sellars (1936 - 2017)
The youngest of the botanical artists in this list and the one who died most recently. She is widely considered to be a contemporary equivalent to the botanical masters of the past and one of the top botanical painters of all time. Botanical Theatre: The Art of Pandora Sellars (1936-2017) - a retrospective exhibition of her paintings on display at Kew demonstrated that for those who were fortunate enough to be able to visit and see her work
Tomorrow - for the last blog post of the decade, I'll be reviewing the Top 20 Pages on my Botanical Art & Artists website based on the number of pageviews they've enjoyed since they were created.
Today is the anniversary of the death of Francis (Franz) Bauer FRS FLS at the age of 82, on 11th December 1840.
Francis Bauer was born an Austrian. He was born in in Feldsberg in Lower Austria (now Valtice in the Czech Republic) on 14 March 1758. However he spent 50 years at Kew Gardens - illustrating plants.
He visited London in 1788 when he was 30 and met Sir Joseph Banks who had a passion for botany and was extremely pleased to meet Bauer - probably at his home at 32 Soho Square. He has by this time realised that finding a competent botanical painter was far more difficult than finding an engraver.
In 1789, Bank appointed Bauer as a natural history illustrator with an annual annuity for life of £300. Bauer subsequently settled permanently in Kew and became the first resident plant illustrator at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
His title was the 'Botanick Painter to His Majesty' for his work at Kew Gardens. A subsequent complication was that his paintings were owned by the crown which gave them to the British Museum! They're now in the Natural History Museum - with just one orchid painting at Kew! However the Natural History Museum has an excellent website where you can see many of them.
He is very well known for
The National Gallery of Art in Washington has a very civilised arrangement where all the books and exhibitions catalogues they have produced in the past, which are now out of print, are reproduced in pdf format for personal/educational consumption online.
Which is how I can recommend all those with an interest in botanical art history take a look at The Flowering of Florence - Botanical Art for the Medici published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington in 2002 for an exhibition of the same name. The idea for the show emerged from Lucia Tongiori Tomasi's research and study at Bunny Mellon's Oak Spring Garden Library.
The book is available in pdf format View PDF (41.29MB)
The Flowering of Florence: Botanical Art for the Medici
Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi and Gretchen A. Hirschauer
Catalog of an exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Mar. 3-May 27, 2002
While the wonders of nature have long been an inspiration to artists, the birth of modern science in the 16th century provided a new way of seeing and interpreting the natural world. The Flowering of Florence celebrates the close ties linking the arts and the sciences in Tuscany between the 16th and 18th centuries. Pursuit of the natural sciences—in particular botany and horticulture—and passion for the arts were supported by the Medici grand dukes, following a Florentine tradition. The 68 works in this exhibition include paintings, works on vellum and paper, pietre dure (hardstone mosaics), manuscripts, printed books, and textiles. The catalog contains two essays focusing on botanical art for the Medici and the plants seen in Pietro Perugino’s altarpiece The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John, Saint Jerome, and Saint Mary Magdalene.
The front cover is a detail crop of Chinese Plate with Cherries and Bean Pods, c. 1620, gouache on vellum by Giovanna Garzoni. She started with botanical illustration for the Medici Court but is best known as a still life painter, her paintings of flowers, fruit and vegetables are absolutely impeccable in terms of shape, form, colour and tone - a well as being exceedingly attractive to look at! You can see more of her artwork in:
The practice of botanical illustration constituted valuable training for Giovanna Garzoni, who gradually broadened her repertoire until she felt prepared to attempt her first still-life paintings, a genre that would win her fame at many of the most illustrious courts of Europe— Paris, Rome, Naples, and Turin. These works were almost always executed on vellum, never on canvas, and she became known as the "illustrious miniaturist." The important role played by botanical painting in her art can be seen in a series of four large works in gouache at the Uffizi and datable to the late 16405, three of which are included in this exhibition. In each work the plant is depicted with its roots and flowers, suspended in the center of the page, in accordance with the tradition of Ligozzi. However, the artist enlivens each composition by unobtrusively adding other elements such as small fruits, vegetables, insects, and reptiles; portrayed with minute precision, each casts a faint shadow against the page on which it seems to have been delicately posed.1
The book also includes artworks (in order) by
I found the mosaic murals and table tops based on botanical paintings to be particularly interesting.
Yet another aspect of botanical art in other media!
When visiting Great Dixter last week, there were lots of local orchids in the uncut meadow grass areas of the site. I love garden websites that actually identify plants you can see - as the Great Dixter site does in relation to the Front Meadow area
The grass is cut twice (August and late autumn) and all is removed and composted. Orchids native to the Weald are a particular success; early purples, green winged, twayblade and spotted (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). It is a sanctuary for them, since changed farming and woodland practices have eliminated most of their natural habitats.
H. Isobel Adams and Wild Flowers of the British Isles
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